The How-To Guide To Treating Tendinosis

Tendinosis is a condition known for causing pain and swelling at the tendon, the fibrous band that attaches muscles to bone. Often confused with tendonitis, the differences between the two are hallmarked by two distinctive characteristics: length of time and cause. Tendonitis is acute or short in duration, whereas tendinosis is chronic, possibly consistent, but also recurring. Tendonitis is typically related to an injury or new activity while tendinosis is caused by long-term overuse or repetitive stress injuries. Cases of tendinosis have been increasing as individuals are overall more active and participating in sports longer, and the methods of visualizing tendons through diagnostic imaging have improved dramatically.

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Physical Therapy And Strength Training


Physical therapy and strength training have long been the gold standards in the treatment of overuse or sports injuries such as tendinosis. Physical therapists are trained professionals who target the area of concern, while strength training is typically performed individually or through a personal trainer. Overuse and repetitive stress injuries such as tendinosis may be triggered by altered biomechanics in the area of complaint. These altered functions abuse the region of concern causing damage to the fibers of the tendons. It becomes a vicious cycle as compensation patterns develop due to pain and dysfunction causing additional biomechanical changes. A physical therapist is trained in identifying these changes in function and taking steps to reverse the chronic abuse. Individualized strength training is a method individuals can take to strengthen the area of concern, correcting weakness and compensation through proper use of muscle groups. In addition to improving current symptoms stemming from tendinosis, physical therapy and strength training work to prevent future occurrences.

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Wear Braces For Support


Pain is typically the first symptom of tendinosis, while mobility becomes shallow as the patient tries to lessen or eliminate pain through motion reduction. Bracing offers a treatment method that may be utilized to rest, support, or stabilize the affected area. Wearing braces for support reduces inflammation and works to reduce improper joint function. In turn, this stability reduces the pain and swelling of tendinosis. Utilization of bracing options is often the first treatment, and it is typically followed by some type of strengthening program to restore proper biomechanics going forward.

However, not all cases of tendinosis can be braced, and bracing can also have negative consequences such as potential strength loss, muscular atrophy, and bone density loss. If utilized in a short-term and controlled setting, these side effects can be managed well. The use of a brace long-term is not recommended; however, a brace can be followed by compression sleeves and various athletic taping methods. These options offer continued progression in supporting tendon function without the side effects of immobilization.

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Apply Ice To Affected Area


Home care for any injury is imperative. Without it, treatment is less successful and the same complaint is likely to recur. Tendinosis is already a chronic, possibly repetitive injury, increasing its likelihood for relapse. While it may seem too simple to be effective, the instruction to apply ice to the affected area is an easy but powerful anti-inflammatory tool. Inflammation is a pain generator that has also been shown to slow healing and increase tendon damage. By eliminating this swelling, pain is reduced and treatment to restore proper function is better tolerated. Individuals should apply ice with a towel layer between it and the skin for a schedule of fifteen to twenty minutes on and forty minutes off. As long as the skin has returned to the normal body temperature, the ice can be reapplied over the course of a day, maximizing therapeutic benefits.

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Take A Break During Repetitive Activities


Tendinosis is primarily an overuse, repetitive stress injury. This overuse can occur as part of a work day, with altered biomechanics causing the repetitive stress. It also may be due to a sport, activity, or hobby that subjects a tendon to improper overuse. Most individuals work based upon need and have no desire to give up a hobby or activity. Usually, total elimination of the aberrant stress activity is not necessary to recover; however, the instruction to take a break during repetitive activities offers a method of allowing the tendon to rest without total activity avoidance. This instruction is both a treatment opportunity for tendinosis, but also a preventative action in reducing the individual risk of developing the condition in the first place.

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Adjust Nutrition For Increased Collagen


Research has demonstrated utilizing nutrition to increase the availability of the building blocks of tissue speeds recovery time. Tendons, along with most connective tissue in the body, have a high concentration of the protein collagen. Vitamins A, E, and C, as well as amino acids like glycine and proline, increased the production of collagen. Another facet to adjust nutrition for increased collagen is to reduce the rate of collagen breakdown. Antioxidants protect collagen cells from free radicals, which are derived from toxins in our air, food, and water, contribute to tissue destruction and breakdown. Great sources of these essential vitamins and antioxidants are fruits and berries. Dark green vegetables contain chlorophyll, which research has shown can increase collagen formation. Foods high in zinc and sulfur, including garlic and oysters, slow collagen breakdown.

Addressing tendinosis from multiple facets of the problem speed recovery and aid in the prevention of recurrence. Speaking with a professional regarding individual treatment goals will ensure optimal results.


    HealthPrep Staff