Tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) occurs when the normal functioning level of the muscles and tendons is exceeded. Muscular stress, either from sudden injuries or repetitive overuse, causes microscopic tears in the tendon’s fibers. Inflammation is the first step in the body’s healing process.
Tendonitis can be very tenacious. Resting the affected tendon for 2-4 days is recommended for acute tendonitis. Elevating the affected area during the inflammation stage helps to control any swelling thereby reducing the throbbing that often accompanies acute inflammation.
Some people find relief from heat and others from cold. Ice is not to used by those with heart disease, diabetes &/or vascular problems without first consulting a doctor. A good rule of thumb is to use cold on acute (recent) conditions and heat on chronic (long-standing) conditions.
Aspirin is one over the counter product that experience has shown may bring temporary relief from pain and help reduce swelling and inflammation. The herb willow bark has a similar effect.
After the rest comes exercise. Too long a rest and muscles begin to atrophy. Stretching before exercising is a must. It increases flexibility and helps to prevent any further injury. Begin with slow, gentle movements gradually increasing the amount of motion and number of repetitions. A new exercise to the one that caused the injury may help tremendously. For example, when the flare up occurred because of one type of activity like walking, then another similar activity like bike riding may help.
It is best to start rebuilding the tissues with gentle stretches and exercises designed to heal. Begin this phase when the pain is gone. Make a plan to gradually increase repetitions and maintain your range of motion.
Massage the area and rub across (not up & down) the tendon for 1-2 minutes. Follow this with 2-3 minutes of stretching the tendon. Repeat this procedure daily. Often times, people find that it helps and speeds recovery to apply ice afterwards for 20 minutes.
Bodywork such as Polarity Therapy, a whirlpool, or just soaking in a warm tub is a great way to increase body temperature and blood flow. Warming the tendon prior to activity decreases the soreness.
Swimming and yoga are both good overall exercise activities.
During recuperation some people find that wearing a brace or wrapping the area is helpful. It is important to take breaks when starting back into one’s routine.
Prevention comes from a gradual increase in an activity over time. Prior to activity, a person needs to do some strength building of the muscles through exercise and increasing tendon flexibility through stretching.
If the pain and swelling persist, consult your physician. Stop any activity that is painful.