How To Treat Tendinopathy
Tendinopathy is a term used to describe damage to the tendons due to microtears, overuse and collagen degeneration. As with most tendon injuries, tendinopathy can develop in any area of the body where the tendon is found. This includes the tendon on the hips and legs, on the arms, and on the hands and feet. The damage commonly occurs in the musculotendinous junction, in the mid-tendon, and in the tendon insertion.
Causes of tendinopathy
Anyone can get a tendon injury, even people who are not active. The condition commonly develops as a result of improper sports technique, repetitive overuse, tensile overload, and trauma to the soft tissue within the body.
There are many factors that can increase one's risk of developing tendinopathy including the use of unsuitable equipment during athletic training, running on hard surfaces, and increasing age.
Symptoms of tendinopathy
The symptoms of tendinopathy commonly occur at the point where tendon attaches to a bone. Symptoms may include the following:
- A feeling that the tendon is crackling when you move
- Pain that develops gradually
- Swelling and redness on the affected area
- Pain that worsens during the night, or when you get up in the morning
How is the condition diagnosed?
If you suspect that you have tendinopathy, the first step you need to take is to schedule an appointment with your trusted physiotherapist who will do an evaluation of your symptoms. During the consultation, you will be asked about your medical history, your current workout program, and your overall health condition. Your physiotherapist may also perform a physical examination to confirm his or her initial diagnosis, and to be able to create a treatment plan that is suited to your specific functional needs. Depending on your body's response to the initial treatment, you may have to undergo further tests such as ultrasound scan or MRI.
How to treat tendinopathy
Resolving tendinopathy can take anywhere from three to six months. At the onset of pain, you may try simple home remedies to ease the discomfort. But if the condition progresses to more advanced stages, you may need to undergo invasive treatments such as surgery to alleviate symptoms. Your physiotherapist may advise you to do the following:
- Do various forms of strength training
- Modify excessive exercise
- Take time to rest
- Place ice or cold packs within the first 24 hours following the injury
- Do gentle stretching to improve the mobility of the joint and prevent stiffness
- Elevate the foot above the level of your heart
- Attend physical therapy
Returning to sports
Tendinopathy may take several months to fully heal, which is why it is not advisable to use the injured leg or feet too soon. In addition, you may be advised to make long-term modifications to your exercise to prevent the recurrence of the injury
Your physiotherapist may suggest the following:
- When pain starts to dissipate, do range of motion exercises to strengthen the tendon
- Make changes to your existing exercise program, or change the way you do them
- If your condition was caused by exercise, consult with your sports physiotherapist about the exercise techniques that you need to avoid
- Perform eccentric exercises as often as possible
- Avoid activities that put excessive load on the tendon
- Do light exercises before you get to the main part of your exercise
- Make sure to do warm up and cool down before and after your workout; perform a proper cool down at the end of your workout
How Physiotherapy helps
The focus of physiotherapy is to promote a speedy recovery by managing symptoms in different stages of the treatment. In a span of a few weeks, your physiotherapist will guide you through different treatment phases until your symptoms improve. After which, you will be prepared to return to doing normal activities.
Both a sports physio and your local physio will be able to assist you with resolving and treating your Tendinopathy. Speak to your local physio about a management plan and to resolve your pain.