By: Dr. Beth Weinman, Sports Medicine Physician
Are you in pain every time you use your arm, leg or foot? It may be due to tendonitis. Currently, over 10 million people in the United States suffer from severe pain due to tendonitis, which keeps them from living an active life.
What is a tendon? A tendon is a strong, flexible band of tissue that connects your muscles to the bones in your joints. Tendons and muscles work together to create a pulling force that allows you to twist, grip, grab, move, bend and lift to perform all sorts of activities necessary to your busy life. When your tendon is damaged, like it is with tendonitis, every movement hurts; even picking up a coffee cup is difficult.
What is tendonitis? Tendonitis is an inflammation or irritation of a tendon that can cause pain and tenderness outside of a joint.
What is tendinosis? Tendinosis, also known as chronic tendonitis, is caused by tiny tears in the tendon tissue that can create pain, stiffness, or inflammation around the tendon. These conditions are more commonly known as tennis or golf elbow, jumper’s knee, Achilles pain or plantar fasciitis. Tendinitis is generally considered chronic, and therefore called tendinosis, once it has been present for at least three months.
Why do people get tendinosis? Chronic tendon pain comes from doing the things you love or need to do over and over and over again. Repetitive motions, no matter how ordinary, can cause small micro tears that occur each time use your tendon. When you do the same activities persistently, the micro tears do not have time to heal properly, causing injury. This causes the tendon to become overused and damaged resulting in it being unable to work at full capacity, causing pain. One may feel a burning, throbbing or sharp sting due to the damaged tendon tissue. Pain due to chronic tendonitis tends to worsen over time since the tendon never gets a chance to heal itself. Tendinosis may occur as a result of occupational requirements such as standing for prolonged periods, gripping a tool with repetitive twisting, cleaning, cooking or typing. In addition, people might get tendinosis from physical activity such as running, jumping and playing golf, soccer or tennis.
How can tendinosis be treated? There are many options including rest, activity restriction, ice, over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, cortisone injections, physical therapy, surgery and Tenex.
What is Tenex? How is it performed? Tenex uses gentle ultrasonic technology to remove the damaged tendon tissue through a micro incision and stimulates a healing response. Tenex replicates the goal of an open surgical procedure by removing the damaged tissue, but in a minimally invasive manner. Prior to performing Tenex, I use ultrasound imaging, just like the kind used to see babies in the womb, to visualize and identify the specific location of the damaged tendon tissue. The procedure usually takes 20 minutes or less, requires only a small adhesive bandage to close the micro-incision, and offers quick recovery time for patients, usually within 6 weeks or less.
Why would I consider Tenex? Tenex is a unique non-surgical treatment option because it removes the damaged tendon tissue unlike rest, medications or physical therapy. Without first treating and removing the pain generating damaged tendon tissue, these other treatments may not provide the ideal solution for you to quickly regain your active lifestyle.
How long is the recovery time? Recovery is rapid with many people being back to normal life within 6 weeks or less. Because the surrounding healthy tissue is not disturbed, and no stitches or general anesthesia is required, there is minimal downtime and less discomfort compared to open surgery. The speed of your recovery depends on the location of your tendinosis and your individual results may vary.
If you are experiencing tendon pain, schedule an appointment with Dr. Beth Weinman at the Meriter Orthopedic Clinic at (608) 417-8500 or learn more at meriter.com/weinman.