As the premier physical therapists in Arizona, Petersen Physical Therapy specializes in treating tendonitis and tendinosis. We will complete a physical exam of the affected area and recommend a routine of basic exercises and stretches to fix the problem. Depending on the severity, tendonitis can last two to four weeks (if not severe) up to six or more weeks (if the problem is chronic). Don’t wait of the issue to become worse, and don’t ignore the pain. Whether or not you seek treatment, we recommend that you begin to rehabilitate the tendon.
What causes tendonitis?
Tendons are the tissue that connects your muscles to bone throughout your body. For example, everyone has heard of the Achilles tendon, the large tendon connecting your calf muscles in to the back of your heel. These connective tissues exist all over your body. They can, of course, become injured. Tendonitis is the term used when one of these connective tissues becomes inflamed.
Tendonitis is generally caused by repetitive motion from hobbies or life activities. It is therefore generally considered an overuse injury. The repetitive motion of swinging a tennis racket, running, or jumping is often the culprit. This can sometimes be a sign of lack of balance in physical activities, but often it just means a patient did more activity than they could handle over a period of time.
Tendonitis vs tendinosis
Though these two terms are often used interchangeably, it is important to understand that they are not the same. In the word “tendonitis”, the “-it is” means inflammation. This refers to the inflammation or irritation of a tendon in the body.
This is as opposed to the “-osis” in “tendinosis”. This suffix means that the tendon is actually damaged or abnormal – a tendon injury. It is usually caused by little damage, here and there, over a long period of time. This condition is generally chronic and requires different treatment. It can also accompany the symptoms of other issues, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
We want you to know this so that you can gave a general understanding of what is causing your issues (based on the history of the pain), but understand that only a trained professional is qualified to determine which is which. Sometimes this is as simple as completing a physical therapy evaluation, and sometimes it requires an MRI. Either way, a physical therapist will be able to make that recommendation for you.
Most common forms of tendonitis
Take a look at the list below, to see if any of them apply to you:
- Tennis elbow, otherwise known as lateral epicondylitis. Symptoms include pain in the back side of the elbow/forearm.
- Golfer’s elbow (or “baseball elbow”), known as medial epicondylitis. Symptoms include pain from the elbow to the wrist on the inside of the forearm.
- Jumper’s knee, or patellar tendonitis, is marked by inflammation/pain below the patella (knee bone) and above the tibia (shin bone).
- Rotator cuff tendonitis, which is marked by inflammation of the shoulder capsule and shoulder joint.
- DeQuervain’s tenosynovitis, marked by swelling in the tendons of the thumb.
- Trigger finger/trigger thumb, which makes it difficult to extend or flex the finger or thumb.
There are, of course, other forms of tendonitis/tendinosis as well. Tendonitis can occur anywhere in your body where muscles connect to bones.
How to treat tendonitis
The quick answer is this: if you have pain in the tendon when it is moved, or a grating feeling when you move a joint, you may have this condition. You may get short term relief from taking anti inflammatory drugs, from wrapping the area in elastic bandages (such as Ace bandages), and from gently stretching the affected area. However, we recommend that you call one of our offices for an evaluation. Other treatments exist, such as platelet rich injections – but physical therapy for tendonitis is the least invasive intervention.
A physical therapist will utilize a combination of manual therapy, exercises, stretches, and taping the area in order to achieve recovery over time. This will be followed up with a plan of how to keep from re-injuring the area.
If you live in the Arizona east valley area, anywhere near Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, or Maricopa, give us a call at (480) 833-1005! We’d love to help you pinpoint the cause of your pain and get you on the fast track to feeling better!