RECOGNIZING TENDON INJURIES
The weather’s turned nice and spring has come to New Orleans, so that means it’s time to get outside and work in the garden, repair the house, or hit the tennis courts. However, at one point or another, most of us have hurt ourselves by falling, overextending ourselves, or playing sports too hard. We’ve limped off of the tennis court because that last reach for a shot sent a pain up the back of our foot or we’ve caught ourselves falling on a bumpy sidewalk but then have a sharp pain in our hip as we get up. Though we may not know for sure what we’ve done, all we know is that it really hurts and feels like we’ve pulled something.
More than likely what has happened is that damage has been done to a tendon. It’s hard for you to make the diagnosis on your own, but an orthopedist can identify the injury, which is likely one of several tendon conditions.
What are tendons?
Tendons are fibrous tissues, kind of like rubber bands, that cover joints and are all over our bodies. Prime spots for problems, however, are the Achilles tendon, shoulder, hip/groin, knee and foot/ankle. These are the areas most likely to be injured and because we use them so much, they often take time to heal.
Tendonitis, Tendinosis, or Tendinopathy?
So we have tendon pain, but what kind of injury is it exactly? There are a few possibilities and each is quite different: Tendonitis, Tendinosis, and Tendinopathy. It’s helpful to think of Tendonitis as inflammation of the tendon, whereas Tendinosis and Tendinopathy are more intense, longer lasting, and degenerative.
Tendonitis is literally the inflammation of the tendon. When the tendon is overloaded or has torn, it becomes inflamed and that, along with the initial injury, is what causes the chronic pain you’re feeling. That inflammation is also makes it hard for the tendon to heal.
Tendinosis doesn’t usually involve inflammation but is more about the tendon not being able to heal or having repetitive trauma to it. There’s usually a loss of collagen involved as well, which means the fibers in the tendon can’t heal.
Tendinopathy is a disease or disorder of a tendon. It is a chronic condition that involves degeneration of the tendon and is the most serious of the three conditions.
What Can I Do About It?
If you’ve had a tendon injury in the past, the first step is prevention in the future. This means stretching, finding substitute activities, using better technique and training, and varying intensity and duration of activities. Once you have a tendon injury, options for treatment range from ice, rest, anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, Ultrasound Guided injections, physical therapy, or surgery. If you have pain in any of the problem areas, contact a physician at Pontchartrain Orthopedics and Sports Medicine for a consultation and a plan to relieve your pain today.
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