Physical therapy for tendonitis is designed to help reduce the inflammation and pain, accelerate the healing process, and maximize the strength of the healing tissues. Depending on the stage of healing and inflammation, the treatment of tendonitis can vary. Early treatment is the key to a fast and full recovery.
Watch this video on a clear description of tendonitis and the proper physical therapy approach for its cure.
We typically use treatments like pulsed ultrasound, light/laser therapy, and recommend specific foods to reduce inflammation. See our article on an anti inflammation diet here.
As the inflammation, the first stage of healing, is reduced, then we initiate light stretching for the tendon. During the second phase of healing, the baby cells are going to the site of damage to replace the dead cells (that was removed during the inflammation phase). We need to apply light tension through the tissues during this phase to guide those baby cells and tell them where to go.
An example to illustrate this is a box of tooth picks. Imaging each tooth pick is a baby cell. During this phase, a box of tooth picks are poured onto the injured tendon. Light tension will tell the tooth picks to line up next to each other and form a piece of board. That will be strong and functional. Without the tension, then they remain random and non functional (aka “scar tissue”). If you apply too much tension, you rip apart the tooth picks and cause more inflammation. So it’s very important to do light stretching during this phase.
Once the light stretching is well tolerated without any pain, you can start to initiate strengthening. However, you can also do strengthening for the unaffected side early on. Yes, that can actually help the injured side get stronger faster.
Watch this video to see where you are most likely to have tendonitis and some simple stretching you can do to help it.
If you continue to have that nagging pain, make sure you address it ASAP. Just call us to schedule an appointment at 856-751-8881. A tendonitis that is treated early will heal in a few weeks. However, if you let the tendonitis linger for more than 3 months, it turns into tendinosis.
Tendinosis can take up to 6 months to fully heal. Read about it here.