Chances are you’ve heard of tennis elbow, golfers elbow, or jumpers knee. These nagging, sore injuries near overworked joints can impede athletes, weekend warriors, or office workers.
A good workout or game on the court can leave muscles sore and aching for a day or two. Often, with a little rest, the soreness goes away, and you’re good to go again.
However, repeated movement or stress on a joint can leave the muscle overworked, sore and open the door to a potential problem.
This repeated stress can lead to tendinitis – an inflammation of a tendon from many microtears. Tendons are strong, thick cords of tissue that connect muscle to bone – your joints. If this persists, it could lead to a tendon rupture and possibly surgery.
How To Treat Tendonitis
To treat tendonitis, a good rule of thumb is PEACE & LOVE: Protect, elevate, avoid anti-inflammatories, compress, educate, load, optimism, vascularization, and exercise. This basically means you need to ease up on the activity. Allow yourself more rest or recovery days, ease up on the weights and reps, or review your form and technique with a coach or skilled professional to make sure you’re jumping, swinging the club, or swimming optimally.
If this does not appear to help, it’s wise to reach out to your primary physician or a physical therapist.
Tendonosis is not inflammation but cellular death in areas of the structure. Tendonitis – the prolonged inflammation of a tendon can lead to tendinosis.
The damage can come from either a single overloading injury (maybe your 1 rep max achievement in the weight room was too much) or from repetitive overloading (maybe it is good to set down the smartphone now and then). Areas of the tendon begin to thicken and die off. Many believe the thickening is inflammation, but this is not the case.
Normal collagen in a healthy tendon is white. If the tissues are traumatized and injured, the white collagen turns grey or brown. The blood supply to the tendon tissue scatters, and the structure thickens as cells begin to die off. The muscle-tendon now has pockets of dead cells surrounded by healthy cells. The structure now has dead zones, pain emerges, and the tendon and surrounding muscles can begin to weaken.
How To Treat Tendonitis
Ease up on a load of your exercise. Don’t completely stop working out, but back off the resistance you are using.
Go for lighter weights and higher reps. This way, you are maintaining some strength and promoting blood flow to the muscle.
Avoid stretching. Light massage or foam rolling would be appropriate.
Slowly ramp up the load or stress on the muscle. This will take far more time than you think, and it may be weeks or months to resume your previous resistance levels safely.
Work with a physical therapist to design a proper ramp-up program. They can give you the proper roadmap and timeline to follow and adjust along the way as needed.
Newer medical procedures, such as JET can help flush out the dead cells from the tendon. This is an outpatient surgical procedure which is then followed by a course of physical therapy.
Treat the donut, not the hole—meaning work on slowly adapting the healthier tissue, than focusing on the damaged or dead tissue.
As with any injury from sports, exercise, or simply living your life, it’s always wise to consult a medical professional if you are unsure of what is going on or the proper way to treat the injury.