Tendonitis: The problem lies elsewhere | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Tendonitis: The problem lies elsewhere

June 6, 2019

Tendonitis – an inflammation of the tendon is a highly diagnosed disorder. It has many different names depending on the part of the body you are referring to, golfer’s elbow, jumper’s knee, tennis elbow, and many others. But no matter what title it goes by it is still the same diagnosis, tendonitis. Somehow that tendon has become overused. Most people when they are diagnosed with tendonitis treat with RICE, rest, ice, compression and elevation for a few weeks and eventually the pain subsides, they resume normal activity. While it is true that RICE will fix the inflamed tendon, it will not fix the cause of the tendonitis. Doing RICE is a classic case of treating the symptoms not the disease.

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When a tendon becomes inflamed it does so because of overuse. But why is that tendon being overused. Most people believe that it is because of repetitive motion, which is in fact true to a point. Repetitive motion will cause an inflammation of the tendon but it is the amount of stress that tendon is under that causes the pain. For example, golfer’s elbow or medial epicondylitis is just an inflammation of the tendon on the inside of the elbow. Now it is not limited to just golfer’s, as anyone can develop this. However, this inflammation is most often caused from weakness of other areas, such as the rotator cuff, that forces the muscles of the forearm to work harder. The rotator cuff muscles are needed for the arm to have stability. If the arm is not able to properly stabilize itself then it will recruit other muscles improperly in order to do so.

How in fact do you treat tendonitis? While beginning with RICE to treat the initial symptoms, it is imperative that you seek treatment from a health care professional. Often I hear from athletes that they didn’t want to stop playing their sport in order to rehabilitate the tendonitis so they just put a ‘band-aid’, aka RICE, on it until later. Unfortunately leaving this to deal with until later could cause more damage and require longer rehab then if dealt with in the first place. Also you do not necessarily have to stop playing your sport or participating in your activity in order to treat tendonitis. Because tendonitis is generally a weakness of the muscles that exist outside of the injured area, you can begin strengthening those areas and letting the inflamed area rest. For example, for jumper’s knee or quadriceps tendon tendonitis, the muscles of the hip can begin to be strengthened while you rest the muscles of the thigh. You can actually become better at your sport while letting the inflamed tendon heal. Strengthening stability muscles, such as the hip muscles and the rotator cuff will actually allow you to become stronger at a sport or activity overall.

The bottom line is if you suffer from tendonitis, you need to create a permanent fix and RICE is not a permanent fix. You need to figure out exactly where the break in the chain is that is causing that tendon to have to work that much harder. If you get to the root of the problem, you can break the pain cycle and fix the REAL problem that is causing the tendonitis.

For more information on physical therapy services head to www.totalperformancept.com.