Although tendonitis can result from an acute injury, it is usually the result of a repetitive muscle force, placing persistent strain on a tendon. Some of the more common forms of tendonitis include laterl/medial epicondylitis, patellar tendonitis achilles tendonitis, rotator cuff tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.
So now that we know what we are dealing with, how do we treat the symptoms? Initially, the individuals can do two things to treat themselves: 1) identify the aggravating factor and stop doing it, and 2) ice, ice and more ice (10-15 min at a time or until “numb”).
However, most people, including fellow healthcare workers, tend to ignore the initial symptoms and push onward. After all, no one wants to stop a favorite hobby or take a sick day from work. So tendonitits usually progresses to a more chronic issue, an these indivudals become patients. Physician-prescribed teratemnts often begin with anti-inflammatory medications and possibliy injections to the involve region. If these are no sufficient, patients may be referred to physical therapy.
As a physical therapist, my plan of care for tendonitis usually involves treating the symptoms and again, identifying and modifying the aggravating factor(s). Adaptations may include ergonomic changes, body mechanics re-training, or an unloading brace. Referencing the tendonitis protocol, I use continuous ultrasound to penetrate and heat the tendon restrictions followed by cross friction massage to release these adhesions. We then reinforce the proper tendon gliding by stretching the involved soft tissues and initiating gentle strengthening with isometrics and/or eccentrics.
Once symptoms decline, I usually add isotonic strengthening and develop an individualized home program of stretching and strengthening to minimize the risk of recurrence. If you have questions or concerns about this or any related topics, please contact one of our physical therapists.