Treatment options for tendonitis and other tendon injuries 

Treatment
Pros
Cons
Rest

Avoid activities that cause pain until feeling better

  • Will allow any swelling to settle
  • May prevent the injury getting worse
  • May limit your day-to-day activities
  • Prolonged rest can be unhelpful
Ice packs

Hold an ice pack or ice wrapped in a towel against the affected area

  • May reduce pain and swelling
  • May speed up recovery
  • Should be applied for 15-20 minutes several times a day
Anti-inflammatories

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen

  • Available over-the-counter
  • May relieve pain and reduce swelling
  • Available as tablets or gels
Simple painkillers

For example, paracetamol

  • Available over-the-counter
  • May relieve pain
  • Generally safer than NSAIDs
  • Don't reduce swelling
  • Only provide temporary pain relief
Physiotherapy and exercise

Aim to strengthen the tendon and surrounding muscles

  • Some good evidence it can help control pain and improve flexibility
  • Exercises may be difficult to follow without supervision
  • May cause muscle soreness or worsening of injury if performed incorrectly
Corticosteroid injections

Steroid medication that is injected into the affected area

  • Can relieve pain for several weeks
  • Can be combined with local anaesthetic to further reduce pain
  • Shouldn't have more than three injections in the same area
  • Can cause tendon rupture (tear), and lightening and thinning of the skin
  • Not always immediately effective
  • May only provide temporary symptom relief
  • Not effective for all tendon injuries
Shock wave therapy

Treatment where high-energy sound waves are passed through the skin to the affected area

  • Can break up the calcium deposits in calcific tendonitis
  • May reduce pain
  • Not known if effective for all tendon injuries 
  • May increase the risk of the tendon rupturing
  • Can cause temporary pain, redness, swelling and feeling sick
  • Not always available on the NHS
Surgery

Surgery to remove the damaged section of tendon, remove lumps or deposits that have formed on the tendon, encourage the tendon to heal or repair ruptured tendons

  • Improves pain in most people
  • May be an option if your symptoms are severe or other treatments have been ineffective
  • Can sometimes be carried out as keyhole surgery (using a small incision) 
  • Risks include wound infection, scarring and tendon rupture
  • Takes several weeks or months to fully recover
  • Not always clear how beneficial it is