How Do I Treat a Sore Tendon?

woman runner hold twisted ankle

A tendon is a thick fibrous cord that attaches your muscles to your bones. You have tendons in your feet, ankles, elbows, shoulders and knees. Tendon soreness can result from overuse, leading to a condition called tendinitis, an inflammation that causes pain and possibly swelling; or from a direct injury to the tendon, such as a tear. If your sore tendon results from overuse, you may be able to treat it at home. Home care using proper methods can help ease soreness and enable you to return to your normal activities.

Rest your sore tendon. Avoid any activities that cause you pain, not just the one that caused your sore tendon. If your sore tendon is in your lower extremities, stay off your affected leg as much as possible for the first day or two.

Ice your sore tendon. Apply either ice bags or cold packs for 15 to 20 minutes at a time every two to four hours for the first few days after your soreness develops.

Elevate the sore tendon above heart level, using pillows. This can help reduce both pain and any swelling you may have. Elevate your sore tendon as much as possible for the first day or two after the onset of soreness.

Apply a light compression bandage to your sore tendon. A light elastic bandage can help reduce soreness.

Take over-the-counter pain medication as indicated on the medication bottle. Aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help ease tendon soreness. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen, however, if they cause you gastrointestinal distress.

Consider cross-training. Participate in a low-impact exercise regime while you are experiencing tendon soreness. Consider swimming, water aerobics, treadmill walking, rowing machines, low-impact aerobics or using an elliptical machine to avoid placing unnecessary stress on your tendons -- especially if your sore tendon is in your lower body.

Consult a doctor if pain or soreness persists for more than a few days. Your doctor may perform imaging studies and a physical exam to help diagnose your condition. She may recommend immobilization, prescription pain medication or physical therapy to help alleviate your tendon soreness.


To avoid soreness, the National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends taking a day off between strenuous workouts to enable muscles and tendons to rebuild themselves.