If you have ever suffered from a tendon injury you will know that the recovery can be frustratingly long. Tendons are important tissues of the body, connecting muscles to bones and come in many different shapes and sizes. There are many reasons why tendon injuries can be difficult to treat, as we explain below.
Tendon injuries often develop gradually.
Tendons need to be able to transmit forces from muscles to the bones that they attach, however they respond to changes in strength more slowly than muscles do. As muscles become stronger or take on more load, the tendons can fail to keep up with this increased demand becoming painful and damaged. This process can take a while to occur and often changes to tendon tissue has begun long before the pain is noticed. This means that there are likely to be multiple factors to be assessed, including biomechanics and training regimes before the problem can be resolved.
Tendons have limited blood supply.
Tendons do have their own blood supply, however, it is not abundant as muscles and this can be a factor with healing as all tissues require nutrients for health and to heal. Any condition that compromises circulation, such as diabetes, can predispose tendons to injury and delayed healing.
Rest and stretching may not necessarily help.
Our instincts in response to tendon pain may not help with recovery. In some cases, stretching can aggravate symptoms and while rest may reduce symptoms, it will not necessarily help with recovery. The best evidence for promoting healthy tendon growth is through addressing poor biomechanics and a tailored strength and loading program.
Recovery often relies on adherence to a specific rehab program.
One of the biggest barriers to healing tendon pain is that exercises can be easy to do in theory, but hard to do in practice. They can take time and discipline. Your physiotherapist can also help you to find strategies to fit your exercises into your daily routine if you are finding this difficult.
Ask your physiotherapist for more information about tendon pain!
Tendons, the connective tissues that join muscles to bone are known for being notoriously difficult to treat once injured. The reason for this is that often they are injured through stress or overuse, and compared to muscles they can have relatively poor blood flow, which is essential for healing.
Tendons and muscles work together to move your joints and together are called a contractile unit. As muscles are exercised and gain strength, the attaching tendons are also placed under tension and adapt to this to become stronger. If the load placed on the tissues exceeds their capacity, the tendon fibres can begin to break down and become stiff and painful.
Is my pain related to a tendon injury?
For an accurate diagnosis, you will need to be assessed by a physiotherapist. However, some signs that your pain might be coming from an in issue with a tendon are;
· The pain is quite specific and can be felt over the tendon itself;
· The pain is worse when under stress and improves when rested;
· The pain improves after exercise has started, but it might be worse once you cool down;
· The area around the tendon may feel stiff after periods of rest, particularly in the morning.
How are tendon injuries treated?
When it comes to recovery, tendons are often treated differently to other injuries. While each tendon injury is unique and will require assessment and intervention by a physiotherapist, there are a few general approaches that usually help with all tendon injuries.
Reducing your activity to a comfortable level is the first step to recovery. Complete rest can actually delay healing as the tendon simply becomes weaker and less able to cope with subsequent loads. Your physiotherapist can provide you with a targeted exercise program to aid your recovery. Eccentric exercises, which are exercises that work alongside gravity, have been shown to stimulate tendon healing and strength.
Stretching may aggravate your injury and should be used with caution. Assessment of any biomechanical faults or stresses that are placing undue load on the tendon is also a central component of treatment. Your physiotherapist is able to guide you with your recovery and return to sport to avoid aggravating any injury.