In physical therapy one of the most common diagnoses that I see is tendinopathies, otherwise known as tendinitis/tendinosis. Tendinopathies can occur in a variety of joints and may lead to symptoms that may decrease someone’s level of function. The purpose of this post is to describe what a tendon is, what changes structurally with a tendinopathy and how physical therapy can treat it.
What is a Tendon?
A tendon is a specialized piece of connective tissue that connects muscle to bone. These tendons are made of strong connective tissue fibers, are well hydrated and are able to take on high loads when loaded in a controlled manner.
What is happening with a Tendinopathy?
While tendons are ordinarily able to take on high loads when in a controlled manner, if these tendons are exposed to a period of overuse as a result of an increase in activity, an injury that never healed, weakness in the muscle attached to it or weakness in the muscles around it, or impaired ROM a tendinopathy may develop and change the structure of a tendon. When tendinopathies had developed and were examined under a microscope in research many cellular changes were found. There was shown to be inflammation around the tendon, an increase in blood flow, an increase in nerve sprouting and disorganization of the collagen (connective tissue). In other words, when you have a tendinopathy your tendon is inflamed and is fraying.
How to Treat It
In order to treat a tendinopathy it is essential to begin to gradually increase tension back onto the tendon. Following this, the muscles around it must be strengthened and stretched in order to decrease the risk of recurrence. In the research it is shown that physical therapy is great at treating tendinopathies whether that be for tendinopathies of the knee, ankle, shoulder, hip, elbow or more. So come on in and get evaluated today!