Tendonitis is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders affecting computer users.

Tendons are like rope like structures that connect muscles to the bones. They work a bit like puppet strings by allowing the muscles to be quite far away from the joints they move. Tendons are very tough but they are also susceptible to injuries. When a tendon is damaged it often becomes inflamed. This is called tendonitis.

Causes of Tendonitis

Tendons of the forearm

Tendons are tough but susceptible to injuries

There are two main ways tendonitis develops. The first is due to friction and the second is due to excessive long term tension. Where tendons pass over joints they are susceptible to friction. Frequent or repetitive activities such as typing can cause irritation, inflammation and pain.

Another more common cause of tendonitis is from excessive or sustained forces. The tendons can transfer tremendous pulling forces yet are not designed to do so for long periods of time. When muscles are chronically tight, the tendons will be under constant tension as well. Muscles and tendons rely on periods of rest for the body to replenish them with vital nutrients. When under constant tension the tendons will develop microtears and become inflamed.

Symptoms of Tendonitis

The effects of tendonitis range from mild to completely disabling. Pain is often dull or achy at rest and can be sharp with activity. Typically pain directly over the tendon is made worse by pressing on it. Tendonitis is almost always associated with muscle tension of the associated muscle. A tight muscle is less capable of further contraction and will often feel weak as a result. Tingling and numbness are not typically associated with tendonitis.

Aggravating factors of tendonitis

While high forces can create acute tendon damage it’s more common for damage to develop slowly due to repetitive actions over a long period of time. Typing is a classic example of such an activity. As muscles are forced to contract and relax very quickly for extended periods of time, the stresses can create microtears in the tendons. When repetitive activities are part of a daily routine the effects are more profound. Insufficient rest, dehydration and poor ergonomics will accelerate the development of the condition.

Diagnosis of tendonitis

Tendonitis often goes unnoticed until it has progressed to the point where tissue damage becomes severe and pain or disability brings it to the person's attention. When conditions are detected in an earlier, or precursor, stage they are much easier to treat through appropriate exercises. It is essential to seek medical advice when tendonitis is suspected, as an early diagnosed condition has a much higher probability of being fully rehabilitated. Personal history, symptoms and the results of range of motion and orthopedic testing are crucial to an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment of tendonitis

Resolving tendonitis typically requires several phases. The first phase is to stop any aggravating activity. This is crucial to proper healing. The inflammation of the tendon needs complete rest for the repair process to begin. Once the inflammation has decreased phase two can start. Phase two is massage and stretching. Massage of the corresponding muscles will help break up any adhesions and promote blood flow through the area. Stretching will help to lengthen the muscle and decrease the resting forces on the tendon thus allowing healing to reach its final stage. If this is done too soon, it may keep the tendon in a state of irritation, so it is crucial to follow the advice of the health professional. The final phase involves identifying any muscle imbalances and strengthening weak muscles while lengthening and loosening other tight muscles. By promoting balanced muscle tone, the condition can effectively be prevented from returning.

Ensuring a healthy future

Ergonomic products such as a specially designed keyboard, mouse or chair are effective means of reducing physical stresses associated with working at the computer. They have an important role in reducing the incidence of RSI. These passive measures however are not enough to restore balance to the muscles and joints. The only means of generating balance, strength and endurance in the body is through exercise. General exercises and stretches are somewhat effective however when an exercise plan is targeted on the individual's specific needs, the results are much more profound. People recovering from acute tendonitis with the guidance of their health practitioner, or dealing with the early stages of tendonitis would do well to investigate the Desk Doctor program. This program incorporates the medical tests uses by experts to detect precursor RSI, including tendonitis and builds an appropriate program of exercises to rehabilitate problems and maintain the body in a healthy state. The program can be used fully at work and all the exercises carried out sitting at the desk.

Tendonitis recovery check list

Get a good diagnosis

To make an effective treatment plan it is essential to know exactly which muscles and tendons are involved and understand clearly the severity of the condition.


Severe cases may require complete cessation of activities

Reduce stress

Both frequency and intensity

Relax the muscles

Best accomplished through frequent gentle stretching of the associated muscles

Get a massage

Breaking up muscular adhesions with deep massage or trigger point work

Keep hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids

Balance muscle tone

When one muscle is tight, the opposing muscle is often weak. Strengthening the weak muscle and lengthening the tight muscle is good.

Improve lifestyle

Improve work environment and change habits to reduce stress and increase exercise.


Desk Doctor is new software that identifies Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and targets it accurately with a personal treatment plan. First the program guides you through on-screen medical tests. Then Desk Doctor uses its built-in reasoning to compile the optimum video-guided exercise program to reverse problems and keep you healthy. More on Desk Doctor. Download the 14-day trial now

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