Athletes often obtain injuries due to repetitive movements, whether it is jumping, throwing, or hitting a baseball bat or tennis racket. When sports or other activities cause too much stress on your body, various joints, muscles, and tendons can become injured. When this stress affects the tendons, it is called tendinitis. Because tendinitis often occurs in athletes, if often take on the name of tennis elbow, jumper’s knee, or quarterback shoulder.
Although tendinitis is common in athletes due to the repetitive nature of many sports, this chronic pain condition can occur in all adults, no matter their activity level.
At Midwest Regenerative Health and Pain Clinic, our physicians often treat cases of pesky tendinitis. Today, we want to explain the various treatment options for tendinitis patients, so if you are experiencing any symptoms, you can get back on your feet as soon as possible.
What Is Tendinitis?
Tendinitis is a common chronic pain condition that affects the body’s tendons, whether in the elbow, knee, shoulder, finger, or Achilles tendon. Tendons are the tissues that connect the muscles and bones within the body. When joints are put under excessive stress, tendons can tear and become inflamed, leading to tendinitis.
Symptoms of Tendinitis
Those who suffer from tendinitis know that it can often be a constant soreness. While it is a constant pain, it can worsen with movement, and the affected area can begin to have a crackling or grating feeling. Symptoms of this condition may also include swelling, heat, and redness. If symptoms worsen, a lump may also develop along the tendon.
People often hear of acute tendinitis when talking about joint pain and injuries, as well. Acute tendinitis is a sharper, more intense pain than regular tendinitis, but it may go away more quickly.
We encourage patients to see a physician if you are experiencing any of these symptoms in your elbow, knee, Achilles, or any other tendon that may become affected.
Causes of Tendinitis
Although there are a variety of things that can cause tendinitis, sudden injury and consistent repetition of a movement over time are the most common reasons people develop this chronic condition. Take, for example, a golfer who continuously swings a club. This motion can cause stress on the elbow, leading to tendinitis in the tendon that connects the arm muscles to the joint. Repetitive movements can be especially troublesome when they are forceful or unnatural to the body.
Age is also a factor to consider, as most cases of tendinitis are seen in adults over the age of 40. Other risk factors include body weight, sports activity, and certain health conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
Professional Treatments for Tendinitis
Regenerative medicine aims to help patients manage chronic pain, such as tendinitis. If you are suffering from this condition, your physician may suggest one or more of the following treatment options to help remove pain and get you back to your normal activities.
Corticosteroid injections are effective in reducing inflammation around the joint, ultimately easing pain. However, this treatment is not recommended for patients who experience tendinitis for more than three months, because it may weaken the tendon over time.
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) treatments involve injections using a patient’s own body as the healing component. A patient will give a blood sample, and a doctor will put this blood sample into a machine that is designed to separate the platelets and other factors that boost healing from the plasma. PRP treatments for tendinitis are still being studied to determine optimal uses; however, it is a promising option for healing this chronic condition. PRP is a similar treatment to stem cell therapy, but instead, it uses blood plasma. Because it is a type of regenerative medicine, it is thought to be more effective in treating tendinitis in the long term.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy differs from PRP therapy because it uses the body’s stem cells to heal the affected area, which are found in the bone marrow and fat tissue rather than in the blood. With this treatment, doctors inject stem cells into the injured body part. Slowly, these stem cells begin to rebuild and repair the tendon, or in other conditions, tissue and cartilage. Like PRP treatments, stem cell therapy is an option for those seeking regenerative treatment options.
While resting injured body parts is vital to their recovery, certain exercises help rebuild strength and heal the affected area. Physical therapy consists of many different treatment options, including massaging, stretching, and exercising. When you see a physical therapist for tendinitis, they will assess the affected area and evaluate pain intensity to determine the best course of treatment.
Most regenerative health physicians try to avoid surgery at all costs. Unfortunately, certain cases can worsen and progress to the point where surgery is the only option. In these cases, our team at Midwest Regenerative Health and Pain Clinic would refer you to a specialist.
At-Home Treatments for Tendinitis
Professional medical treatments are the most effective way to treat tendinitis and prevent future injury from occurring. However, there are at-home treatments that can help reduce pain. These remedies, combined with professional treatments, are the ideal plan to get tendinitis patients back on their feet.
R.I.C.E. is a popular acronym for at-home remedies that help treat things like sprained ankles, and of course, tendinitis. It stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
- Rest: Rest is incredibility important to reduce the pain of tendinitis. It is best to avoid activities that increase the pain and swelling, primarily if a particular sport caused the tendinitis. Rest is essential to healing and reducing inflammation of the tissue.
- Ice: Applying ice to the affected area helps to alleviate pain and swelling of the tendon. Patients can ice their injury in numerous ways, including ice packs, ice massages, or slush baths.
- Compression: Applying pressure to a body part to control the swelling of an injuried area. This can be done by wrapping an elastic bandage around the affected area. If you are seeing a physical therapist, they can give you tips on the most effective ways to wrap the injury to prevent it from worsening due to movement.
- Elevating: Elevating the affected limb helps reduce swelling, espeically if the tendinitis affects your knee. Try to keep the affected body part above your heart for the best results.
Over the counter pain medications can go a long way when it comes to managing the pain associated with tendinitis. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as Advil or ibuprofen, are effective in reducing tendon pain. Patients can also take acetaminophens like Tylenol.
Preventing Tendinitis in the Future
Once tendinitis begins to improve, patients are eager to get back to their normal, everyday activities. However, be careful to prevent the pain from resurfacing. If you have this condition because of a sport, try to warm up beforehand and slowly build the intensity level. Cooling down and stretching afterward is also vital to keeping the tendon healthy and strong.
You can also prevent tendinitis by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying active, and switching up movements so as not to fall into a repetitive motion too often.
You should seek professional help if you are experiencing pain near a joint and think it may be tendinitis. Call Midwest Regenerative Health and Panic Clinic at 913-745-5300 to schedule an appointment today!