You know when you feel that nagging on and off pain, slowly getting worse and worse, irritating you more and more? Maybe you’ve been resting it for weeks or even months, but as soon as you return to your sport or favourite activity, it’s back and just as bad as it was before!
Maybe you have been told you have tendinitis?
If you have, then you have most likely been told to rest it, ice it, stretch it or even take some anti-inflammatories for it too!
Despite trying all of these, your tendinitis doesn’t seem to go away… in fact, maybe it’s even starting to get worse?
For starters, there is a good chance that your pain is not tendinitis at all, but rather a tendinopathy!
Tendinitis refers to inflammation of a tendon, and that this inflammation is responsible for your pain. A tendinopathy, however refers to the potential reactions and degeneration of the tendon along with dysfunction of the associated muscles and fascia that surround it
The problem here is that if your pain is caused by a tendinopathy, then inflammation is rarely present and therefore needs a different course of treatment to get you moving 100% pain free again. What makes things even worse, is that rest and stretching (two treatment options that were previously mentioned) actually make most tendinopathy conditions worse! In addition to this, icing the sore area may feel nice, but that is about all it will do, as it wont help that tendon recover unfortunately.
What has been discovered is that instead of inflammation, the tendon becomes degenerative and cannot handle loads appropriately any more. This seems to create an endless loop where your tendon cannot cope with the same amount of stress placed on it any more, meaning you stop using it as often, which results in a weaker tendon that cannot cope with even less load now!
This then requires surrounding muscles to become overworked and overloaded to compensate and shift the load away from the tendon. You can guess what happens next though… this puts other muscles in a vulnerable state and they soon become overloaded and begin to cause pain themselves. The cycle continues until the body can no longer compensate and you are just left with a bit of a mess!
The takeaway message here is that inflammation must be present and be the limiting factor for your condition to simply be a ‘tendinitis’
Remember: If it gets better within 3 to 5 days of rest and does not return, it probably was a simple case of inflammation. If your tendon pain does not go away or keeps returning once you resume activity, it is most likely a tendinopathy and requires much more attention!
If you would like more information on tendon pain, get in touch! You can even book an appointment with one of our tendon expert physiotherapists below!