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Treating Tendon Pain and Tendinopathy

Treating Tendon Pain and Tendinopathy

By: Emilia Kubera-Shelton DPT

Bowie Location


According to Jill Cook PhD from LaTrobe University in Melbourne, there are 10 things to contemplate when treating tendon pain: 

  1. Complete rest is not necessary – taking a break from activity and sport to reduce initial pain is a good idea but it is important to continue moving to prevent muscle atrophy and other tissue changes 
  2. Type of exercise matters – your physical therapist can help you with choosing the correct types of exercise to address the problem 
  3. Passive treatment such as ice, and TENS can help with pain for the short term but will not treat the problem - don’t rely on this type of treatment alone 
  4. Avoid injections into tendon – there is little scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of injections, consider injection only as a last resort 
  5. Tendon pain increase with exercise and activity usually means overload is happening and reduction of tendon load may be necessary 
  6. Tendon stretching can be detrimental to healing – studies suggest that stretching causes compression to tendons and compressive loads are contraindicated to a tendon that is not functioning properly 
  7. Friction massage will not help with healing 
  8. Imaging such as MRI or ultrasound are not helpful in determining outcomes and abnormal images may not be helpful in initial diagnosis 
  9. Pain protects you from tendon rupture, studies show that most people that had tendon rupture had no pain – you don’t need to worry about rupture  
  10. Rehabilitation of tendons will take time, be patient. Most people get better within 3 months and can return to sports and exercise with no restrictions. 

The bottom line: the best approach to treating tendinopathy is to find a physical therapist that can guide you through the process. Be patient and get better!

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