Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
To treat tendinitis at home, R.I.C.E. is the acronym to remember — rest, ice, compression and elevation. This treatment can help speed your recovery and help prevent further problems.
- Rest. Avoid activities that increase the pain or swelling. Don't try to work or play through the pain. Rest is essential to tissue healing. But it doesn't mean complete bed rest. You can do other activities and exercises that don't stress the injured tendon. Swimming and water exercise may be well tolerated.
- Ice. To decrease pain, muscle spasm and swelling, apply ice to the injured area for up to 20 minutes, several times a day. Ice packs, ice massage or slush baths with ice and water all can help. For an ice massage, freeze a plastic foam cup full of water so that you can hold the cup while applying the ice directly to the skin. For more chronic tendon conditions, heat can be helpful in increasing blood flow to the muscle and tendon. This includes deep heat, from a therapy such as ultrasound.
- Compression. Because swelling can result in loss of motion in an injured joint, compress the area until the swelling has ceased. Wraps or compressive elastic bandages are best.
- Elevation. If tendinitis affects your knee, raise the affected leg above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
Although rest is a key part of treating tendinitis, prolonged inactivity can cause stiffness in your joints. After a few days of completely resting the injured area, gently move it through its full range of motion to maintain joint flexibility.
You can also try over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), in an attempt to reduce the discomfort associated with tendinitis.
- Questions and answers about bursitis and tendinitis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bursitis/default.asp. Accessed Sept. 22, 2011.
- Schmidt MJ, et al. Tendinopathy and bursitis. In: Marx JA, et al. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-0-323-05472-0&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05472-0..00115-8. Accessed Sept. 22, 2011.
- Colburn KK. Bursitis, tendinitis, myofascial pain, and fibromyalgia. In: Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0986-5..C2009-0-38984-9--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0986-5&about=true&uniqId=236797353-5. Accessed Sept. 26, 2011.
- Clark BM. Tendonitis. American College of Rheumatology. http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/tendonitis.asp. Accessed Sept. 26, 2011.
- Khan K, et al. Overview of overuse (chronic) tendinopathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 26, 2011.
- Khan K, et al. Overview of the management of overuse (chronic) tendinopathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Sept. 26, 2011.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 28, 2011.