Tendonitis is when a tendon swells (becomes painful) after a tendon injury.

It can cause joint pain, stiffness, and affect how a tendon moves.

You can treat mild tendon injuries yourself and should feel better within 2 to 3 weeks.

How to treat tendonitis yourself

Follow these steps for 2 to 3 days to help manage pain and to support the tendon.

  • Rest – stop the exercise or activities that caused the injury until you feel better
  • Ice – put an ice pack (you could use a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel) on the injury for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours
  • Support – wrap an elastic bandage around the area, use a bue bandage, or use a soft brace.  you can buy these from pharmacies.  It should be snug, not tight.

It's important to take a bandage or brace off before going to bed.

When you can move the injured area without pain stopping you, try to keep moving it so the tendon doesn't become stiff.

To help prevent further injury or pain, try to avoid:

  • heavy lifting, strong gripping or twisting actions that make the symptoms worse
  • playing sports, until the tendon has recovered

A pharmacist can help with tendonitis

A pharmacist can recommend the best painkiller. Paracetamol and ibuprofen can help to ease pain.

They may also recommend a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) cream or gel you rub on your skin.

Find a pharmacy

Symptoms of tendonitis

There are tendons all over your body. They connect your muscles to bones, for example in your knees, elbows and shoulders.

The main symptoms of tendonitis are:

  • pain in a tendon that gets worse when you move
  • difficulty moving the joint
  • feeling a grating or crackling sensation when you move the tendon
  • swelling, sometimes with heat or redness

Go to a minor injuries unit or see a GP if:

  • your symptoms do not improve within a few weeks
  • you're in a lot of pain
  • you think you have ruptured (torn) a tendon

If the pain is sudden and severe, and happened during an accident or activity, you may have ruptured a tendon. You might have heard a popping or snapping sound when the pain started.

If your tendon is ruptured, you may be referred to a specialist for assessment.

You may be referred to hospital for an X-ray or scan if your doctor thinks you may have another injury, such as a broken bone.

Find a minor injuries unit

Treatment for tendonitis from a GP

A GP may prescribe a stronger painkiller or cream or gel on your skin to ease pain.

If your pain is severe, lasts a long time, you may be referred to a doctor who specialises in muscles and bones (orthopaedic specialist) or a local musculoskeletal clinic.

Some people with severe tendonitis may be offered:

  • steroid injections – which may provide short-term pain relief (this cannot be offered for problems with the achilles tendon)
  • shockwave therapy – which may help with healing
  • platelet rich plasma injections (PRP) – which may help with healing
  • surgery to remove damaged tissue or repair a ruptured tendon

Find a physiotherapist

Preventing tendon problems

Tendonitis is most often caused by sudden, sharp movements or repetitive exercise, such as running, jumping or throwing.

Tendonitis can also be caused by repetitive movements, or having poor posture or technique while at work or when playing a sport. This is known as repetitive strain injury (RSI).

You cannot always prevent tendonitis. But there are things you can do to help reduce the chance of a tendon injury.


  • warm up before exercising and stretch afterwards
  • wear suitable shoes for exercise
  • take regular breaks from repetitive exercises


  • do not over-exercise tired muscles
  • do not start a new sport without some training or practice
  • do not stick to the same repetitive exercises


The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 15/06/2022 12:01:54