How Physical Therapy Can Help Tendinitis
Posted on October 11 2019
Tendons are the flexible, yet strong, bands of tissue that connect your muscles to your bones. Tendinitis is a condition usually caused by repetitive motion that can cause an impact on an affected area over time. The deterioration from many small tears and frays in the tendon tissue leads to tendonitis.
Tennis elbow or golfers’ elbow are two common examples of tendonitis. Even the new favorite pastime among Baby Boomers, Pickleball, has contributed to increased cases of tendonitis. And although it’s a common sports injury, it can happen as a result of several other activities including: raking, digging, shoveling, carpentry, computer work, and more.
Tendinitis can happen to anyone, although the risk of tendonitis can increase as you get older. As you age, your tendons can lose some elasticity and be less capable of handling repeated stress. Tendonitis can occur in many areas of the body where a tendon connects to a muscle, usually at or near an active joint including the elbow, shoulder, forearm, wrist, hip, knee, and the base of the thumb.
Symptoms of Tendinitis
Tendinitis is a severe form of swelling and inflammation local to the tendon. It is usually very painful and can persist for weeks to months if it is not treated properly. Most people who suffer from tendonitis says that it is incredibly painful and disruptive to almost everything they do.
Once tendons are injured it can be difficult for them to completely recover due to limited blood flow at tendons relative to muscles. Additionally, it can be a real challenge to avoiding re-straining the injured tendons since tendonitis typically occurs near joints that get lots of use. When the pain is gone, tendons may not be completely healed. Unfortunately, when the pain disappears, we try to use the tendon/muscle normally and if proper healing and restoration of strength has not occurred the tendonitis can return.
Treatment and Physical Therapy for Tendinitis
As with many soft tissue injuries the initial treatment for tendonitis may include rest, ice, and support.
Our licensed physical therapists’ goal is to get your tendons, muscles and joints working normally and safely again in as short a time as possible. Your physical therapist will create a customized treatment plan just for you which may include:
Identifying and avoiding painful movements by showing you how to correct abnormal postures to reduce stress in the affected areas.
Manual physical therapy may be used including gentle joint movements, soft-tissue massage, and stretches to get your tendons/muscles and joints moving properly.
Trigger point dry needling may also be effective by enhancing healing of the effected tendon and reducing stress on the tendon caused by active trigger points in the muscles attached to the tendon.
Range of motion exercises and stretches may be recommended to reduce stiffness and help the area begin to move properly.
Once your symptoms are stable, your physical therapist will include strengthening exercises to improve the strength of your tendon and surrounding muscles which is key to returning to use of your affected joint and reducing the risk of reinjury. They will create an individualized home-exercise program to meet your specific needs and goals, which you can continue long after you have completed your formal physical therapy.
Also, your physical therapist will show you ways to perform actions, while protecting the affected area. For example: keeping your wrist or elbow in a neutral position to reduce excessive force while performing repetitive tasks and taking frequent breaks are ways to decrease your chances of reinjury. They will also teach you how to correctly perform functional movement patterns using proper mechanics. This training will help you return to pain-free function on the job, at home, and when playing sports.
Lastly, to decrease your risk of tendinitis, regular physical exercise can help keep muscles, tendons, and bones strong. Be sure to warm up your muscles and perform regular stretches to maintain flexibility before and after exercise or activity.
If you have pain or swelling near a tendon that limits your ability to move a joint, please contact Fit Physical Therapy today to schedule an appointment. We pledge that our family/team atmosphere will be different than any other physical therapy experience you've had before!
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