Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Tendonitis Treatment

Treatments13 for tendonitis are usually aimed at relieving the pain and discomfort associated with the condition, as well as healing the affected joint and preventing any further injury from occurring.

Tendonitis medication

Several medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, are available to reduce the inflammation and pain caused by tendonitis. Some commonly used medications include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): These over-the-counter pain relievers work by alleviating inflammation in the tendons, providing temporary relief of discomfort. NSAIDs are typically used short-term (around 5–7 days) for acute tendonitis.
  • Acetaminophen: An over-the-counter pain reliever that is generally preferred over NSAIDs for chronic tendonitis.
  • Corticosteroid injections: These injections can reduce stubborn inflammation for a longer period of time. Corticosteroids should not be used repeatedly in chronic cases of tendonitis, however, as they can weaken the tendons and increase the risk of rupture.
  • Topical nitroglycerin: Dermal patches containing this medication are placed directly over the affected tendons to deliver nitric oxide, a potent signaling molecule that stimulates collagen synthesis in tendon cells. This treatment is sometimes used in combination with physical therapy and is usually given when other treatments have failed.

Your provider may prescribe the following medications for tendonitis:

May be prescribed

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Treatments and therapies for tendonitis

Other approaches used to treat tendonitis include:

  • Physical therapy: Once pain has been sufficiently managed, physical therapy (particularly high-load resistance training) can help strengthen or stretch the tendons in order to avoid further problems or injuries. One type of resistance exercise called eccentric exercise14 involves strengthening the muscle while it’s lengthened. This has proven effective in treating tendonitis in different areas of the body.
  • Dry needling: This therapy involves using acupuncture needles to make small holes in the affected tendon. This draws more blood flow to the affected areas to promote faster and more thorough healing. In some cases, the practitioner will also use electric stimulation on the needles before they are removed.
  • Phonophoresis or iontophoresis: These treatments use ultrasound or electric stimulation (respectively) to help anti-inflammatory creams penetrate the skin. This can make anti-inflammatories more effective, especially in tendons that lie well below the surface of the skin.
  • Surgery: In cases of severe or chronic tendonitis, surgery may be able to help repair the damage done to the tendon(s). Surgery may also be required if tendonitis accompanies a broken bone, a sprain, or another type of injury. Most medical practitioners view surgery as a last resort for treating tendonitis.

Your healthcare provider may suggest some at-home15 tendonitis treatments, including:

  • Rest: Avoid using the affected muscle as much as possible. You may need to modify your usual exercises or avoid strenuous activity for a period of time. You may also need to take time off work in order to allow your tendons to heal and develop a treatment and prevention plan for the future.
  • Adjusting your movement: Making sure that you are moving properly at all times can help prevent worsening your tendonitis or causing injury. Asking an expert, such as a physical therapist, for advice on how to adjust or improve your movement patterns can help prevent you from overloading or straining your tendons during everyday activities.
  • Ice: Icing a sore tendon for roughly 20 minutes several times a day can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Pay attention to your body and discontinue an exercise or therapy if it begins to hurt. As with any treatment, exercise, or therapy, it’s important that you talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a new regimen.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.