If you live a very active life, you've likely experienced tendon pain at one time or another. Often it starts with a particular activity or day when we "overdo", but when it doesn't disappear in a day or two we start to worry.
A big struggle with tendon pain is that we don’t feel it all the time. The pain may flare up and then go away completely for a while - you’ll feel fine to go about your daily activities. But the pain strikes again when you least expect it - maybe just walking the laundry basket upstairs.
At this point, the tightness and discomfort are standing in the way of your everyday activities - not to mention the athletic activities you used to participate in.
Are you frustrated because everything you have read online, in a fitness magazine, or were told by a friend doesn't seem to be working anymore?
That's probably because there are a lot of myths and misinformation out there about tendon pain. If we can get that cleared up, we will be opening the door for new, positive strategies for healing tendon pain once and for all.
Here are the top 5 myths we hear about tendon pain on a regular basis . . .
Myth #1 - Rest is Best
While a little rest may make you feel better when the pain starts off, it won't help in the long run. In fact, it will hinder recovery and make the pain more likely to reoccur. Reducing the load on the tendon changes its structure and it becomes weak over time.
Myth #2 - Tendon Pain Means Inflammation
The word tendonitis gets thrown around a lot and it is assumed that because an -itis means inflammation that a tendon problem must be due to inflammation. However, a study in the 1970's showed that most chronic tendon pain is due to tissue breakdown, not an inflammatory process,
Myth #3 - Antiinflammatory Medications Heal the Tendon
Initially, there will be some inflammatory cells in the injured tissue, but inflammation is not the driving factor of the pain and injury. Therefore, the anti-inflammatory medication often prescribed will not fix the problem. In fact, these medications are found to weaken the tendon when taken over a prolonged period of time.
Myth #4 - Injured Tendons Need Stretching
Although tight muscles may contribute to tendon pain, the traditional stretching most people do will cause more damage than benefit. Compressing the tendon against the bone with a stretch causes irritation. Treatment must focus on increasing the tendons resiliency to this loading first while addressing the tightness in the muscle with other relaxation techniques.
Myth #5 - Strenuous Activites Cause Tendon Injury
Don't think of your tendons as weak rubber bands or string. They are actually incredibly strong and very adaptable. The problem is, they don't like rapid and unexpected change. So maybe you participate in rigorous exercise without a problem, but quickly step off a curb the wrong way and you feel the pain.
What is the best treatment for tendon problems?
Treating a tendon problem requires patience. You must figure out what your body is used to and then work to reintroduce stressors to build back the tendons capacity to accept that load. A practitioner can work with you to be sure your tendon is able to slowly and safely adapt rather than being forced to adapt too quickly.
A program must be tailored to meet each individuals needs and ultimate goals. A shoulder tendon problem will require a different protocol than an elbow or ankle problem. There is even a different approach depending on whether the injury is in the middle of the tendon or where it attaches to the bone.
And of course, treatment for a high-level athlete who wants to quickly get back to competition is different than the retiree who wants to walk the golf course by spring.
Despite the differences, the purpose of the treatment is the same - to restore function to the level that the client desires without pain or reinjury.
We know that tendon pain can be overwhelming and seem difficult to manage - especially when it comes out of nowhere. But, you are never powerless in dealing with pain when you bust through the myths and get the right help.
We want you to feel confident in your plan to treat your tendon pain and know that is exactly right for you and your lifestyle.
Still not feeling very confident?
Request a call from a Doctor of Physical Therapy today. They can explain the best plan to get you off the couch and back to the work and play that means the most to you.
At the end of this call, you will feel empowered to take the next best step to your health . . . and healing this tendon problem once and for all! Just click the link below to get started.