Walking, sports, and repetitive physical activities can all cause tendonitis. This condition is caused when a tendon (which attaches to a muscle) becomes inflamed. Following a strain or sprain, tendonitis may be a secondary complication – and it can range from minor to severe. The pain of tendonitis after a sprain injury can take actually longer to heal than the sprain itself. On repeated injury, chronic tendonitis (or even tendinosis) may result with consequent impairment of daily functioning.
According to an article by Cherry et al (in a report in the 2008 National Health Statistics Report of the National Ambulatory Medical Survey: 2006 Summary), approximately 902 million visits to physicians’ offices occurred in 2006. Of the injury-related physician office visits, seven percent were for overuse injuries – including tendonitis (per an article in American Family Physician entitled, “Common Overuse Tendon Problems: A Review and Recommendations for Treatment”).
While Achilles heel tendonitis is the most common, wrists, thumbs, elbows, knees, and shoulders are other frequent locations of tendonitis pain. Following immediate injury, icing may help (such as use of the Core Products Vinyl Cold Corpack – which can be stored in a freezer and offers up to 30 minutes of cold therapy). Resting the afflicted part of the body as well as anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) are usually recommended (e.g., ibuprofen and naxproxen). Lidocaine or corticosteroid injections may also be administered in severe cases.
Symptoms and Diagnostic Measures in Tendonitis
Swelling, tenderness on movement, warmth, and redness are all some of the signs of tendonitis. Physicians and nurse practitioners usually perform manual exams and order diagnostic tests to determine tendonitis. While x-rays are useful to display injuries to bones, these are not useful in diagnosing injuries to tendons. Soft tissue injuries are more discernible by CT and MRI scans, so these may be ordered for a tendonitis diagnosis.
TENS Units and Tendonitis Pain Relief
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s website, studies have shown high-energy shockwave therapy to be helpful for tendonitis pain relief – and TENS units are a complementary therapy approach used for tendonitis pain relief. In transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a specialized device transmits low-voltage electrical impulses through electrodes on the skin surface. The theory behind TENS therapy was developed by Drs. Melzac and Wall in 1965 in their Gate Control Theory, according to the American Cancer Society website.
The Core Products Wi-Touch Wireless TENS is one such unit. It is remote-controlled, and runs on a battery. Since proximity to an electrical outlet is not necessary, this TENS unit is a good option for use at work (and can typically be worn under clothing).
Orthotics for Achilles Heel Tendonitis
Jogging or walking in poor-fitting footwear are often a cause of chronic Achilles heel tendonitis. Likewise, flat feet can also contribute to inflammation of the Achilles tendon. Arch supports and heel lifts are two orthotics that may be used to reduce pressure from insertional (as opposed to non-insertional) Achilles tendonitis. Shoes that are softer in the back may also provide pain relief, and allow the tendon to heel. The Achilles heel is the largest tendon in the human body. If ruptured, orthotics may not be sufficient to resolve the condition – and surgery may be necessary.
The thumb is a frequent site for tendonitis – especially in women who constantly lift young children (according to the MedLine Plus website of the National Institutes of Medicine). It is also often found in individuals who frequently engage in tennis, rowing, and texting. Swelling and pain in the wrist (as well as pain on the back of the thumb) may be symptoms. The Core Product Reflex Wrist with Dual Comfort Pack may be utilized for wrist-related pain relief.
Aging and Tendonitis
Tendons lose elasticity in aging, and chronic tendonitis is a problem in aging bodies. Pain relief for tendonitis in the elderly can improve quality of life and enable seniors to maintain activities of daily living. Therefore, tendonitis should be addressed by gerontologists to enable seniors to maintain independent lives and prevent the onset of problems due to inactivity.