What to Do About Tendonitis

Are you feeling pain around your elbow, knee, or shoulder when you’re on the tennis court lately? Perhaps you’re working in a warehouse or have another job that requires constantly raising your arms over your head or bending and pivoting. You may have developed tendonitis in a shoulder, elbow, or knee. 

What is tendonitis? 

Your tendons are thick, rope-like bands of tissue that connect your muscles to your bones. A sudden trauma can damage them, as can overuse. Tendonitis occurs when your tendons are inflamed and irritated from overuse. The inflammation causes pain and soreness. 

If you play sports or have a physically demanding job, you’re more prone to tendonitis than someone who’s a couch potato. You’re using certain tendons frequently, so they’re more susceptible to an overuse injury. You can get tendonitis in any tendon, but it’s most common in the shoulder, elbow, knee, wrist, or heel. 

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons at San Diego Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center treat many patients for tendon injuries; you’re in expert hands. Our treatment also focuses on preventing future tendon injuries. 

What can I do from home to ease my tendonitis? 

You may have already guessed the first thing to do for tendonitis when you’re in pain: Use the RICE method. First, rest the area that’s painful. Stop playing through the pain. Tell the other players you have to take time off for an injury. 

Next, use an ice pack several times a day to help calm the inflammation. Place a compression bandage on the area to help reduce swelling. Elevate the area if you can. 

Use over-the-counter pain relievers until you can see your physician in our office. If over-the-counter pain relievers aren’t strong enough, your doctor can prescribe something  stronger. 

What medical treatments are most effective for tendonitis? 

Some physicians administer cortisone shots to reduce the inflammation, but too much of the steroid can result in tissue damage. Following are some of our standard treatments, which include two newer, cutting-edge therapies that may be more effective than cortisone shots. 

Physical support for the tendon

Your San Diego Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center physician may recommend a splint or brace to support your injured arm, shoulder, or wrist while it’s healing. 

Physical therapy 

Once the inflammation has calmed down, your doctor likely recommends physical therapy if the tendonitis hasn’t resolved. You’ll go to physical therapy two to three times a week for several weeks. Your therapist uses a variety of strategies. At first, you’ll spend more time having a very gentle massage of the area along with whirlpool treatments and/or ultrasound and gentle stretches. 

As your healing proceeds, you engage in more active modalities, including many types of gentle exercises to strengthen the muscles surrounding the tendon. You practice the exercises at home daily in order to effect healing as quickly as possible. The therapy and stretches bring increased circulation to the injury, helping it to heal. It is important to continue your stretches and exercises at home once physical therapy is completed. 

Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT)

Our physicians are trained in a relatively new treatment for tendonitis: Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT). We’re leaders on the West Coast in offering this noninvasive treatment for our patients. 

Researchers report that the success rate of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) is from 60 to 80 percent when applied to the tendons involved in tennis and golf elbow, plantar fasciitis, rotator cuff tendonitis, trochanteritis (hip), Achilles tendonitis, and patellar tendonitis (jumper’s knee), which affects the tendon connecting the kneecap to the shinbone. 

Scientists think that ESWT works by creating tiny wounds in the tendon tissue, after which your body produces a healing response by rushing nutrients to the inflamed tendon. A typical course of treatment is one treatment a week for three weeks. You’ll know by then whether it’s working. 

TOPAZ radiofrequency therapy

Topaz radiofrequency therapy is a relatively new, minimally invasive procedure used to break up scar tissue caused by plantar fasciitis. The procedure results in an inflammatory response that creates new blood vessels and rushes nutrients into the damaged tendons in your foot. 

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy

Your orthopaedic surgeon may recommend platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy for your tendonitis. Your doctor injects your own blood, remixed so that the solution contains a very high level of blood platelets carrying rich nutrients, into the injured area. The solution encourages new cell growth to replace the damaged cells. This minimally invasive treatment shows much promise in helping to heal soft-tissue injuries. 

If you’re suffering with tendonitis or other musculoskeletal pain, call or book an appointment today with San Diego Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center. We’re your pain relief partner. 

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