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Living With Chronic Tendon Injuries

Tendon injuries range from Achilles tendinopathy at the heel to rotator cuff tendinopathy at the shoulder to patellar tendon injuries at the knee joint. They’re common and account for at least 7% of doctor visits in the United States. 

You may experience a tendon injury due to sports, but they can also result from job or lifestyle activities. Regardless of why you have one, a chronic tendon injury can severely affect your quality of life.

If you’re living with a chronic tendon injury, David J. Kaplan, DPM, of FootCare Specialists, Inc. with offices in San Mateo and Half Moon Bay, California can help. We assist with pain management, restoration of function, and improved performance.

Why tendon injuries occur

Tendons are the unique connective tissue that must display characteristics of strength, flexibility, and elasticity. While these qualities make your tendons super functional, they also make tendons susceptible to injury.

In acute tendon injuries, bleeding and inflammation play a major role in the pain and decreased function of a tendon. If you tear a tendon, completely or partially, for example, it’s an acute injury.

Chronic tendon injuries are different. Most often resulting due to overuse, they can occur in tendons that have a poor blood supply, so healing is slow-going. Collagen — a major tissue protein — at the tendon separates. This makes the tendon vulnerable to complete degeneration.

Care for chronic tendon injuries

Chronic tendon injuries require delicate management. Use of corticosteroid injections and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for pain mitigation should be limited. Medication can ease pain temporarily, but do nothing to promote healing or return to function. Long-term use of steroid injections can break down the connective tissue at the joint further, and long-term use of NSAIDs can cause complications in the gut.

Medication

But the use of these drugs occasionally can help increase your range of motion temporarily so you can participate in rehab exercises to improve your condition. Never use drugs to push through pain during sports practice or competition.

Therapy for chronic tendon injuries should instead involve rest and protection. You may need to commit to a modified activity for several months to give your tendon a chance to heal. This may include giving up a season of play or several key races. The long-term results are worth it.

Radial pulse therapy (RPT) 

The leading-edge Zimmer platform entails moving a handheld applicator over your treatment area. The applicator contains a specialized projectile that’s accelerated (or pulsating) through the electromagnetic transfer of kinetic energy. Once this kinetic energy is transformed in the applicator head, it transmits energy deep into your soft tissues in a pulsating manner. This stimulates blood flow to the injured area and promotes soft-tissue healing over time. 

Physical therapy 

Physical therapy may be recommended to help your body heal from tendon injuries because it can encourage greater circulation to the damaged tendon and heal dysfunctional movement patterns that contribute to tendon pain. Exercises that rest the damaged tendon but strengthen nearby muscle groups encourage healing and restoration of movement.

Surgery

In some cases, chronic tendon injuries require surgical intervention. Dr. Kaplan always begins with the least invasive treatments. Surgery is always a last choice.  

If you’re living with a chronic tendon injury,  request an appointment online or over the phone with FootCare Specialists, Inc. today.

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