Tendonitis can happen in any area of the body where a tendon is being overused. If left untreated it can lead to serious/chronic issues. Most individuals experience this injury near joints around the shoulder, knee, elbow, wrist, foot, and can be a painful problem. The muscles’ have a regular blood supply of healing nutrients and fresh oxygen. But the tendons along with other connective tissues do not, which causes the tendons to become inflamed and unable to quickly heal. Most individuals don’t realize they are developing tendonitis until the pain starts to present. Chiropractic can help to prevent tendonitis from becoming a chronic problem.
Length of time for tendonitis to heal
Healing time depends on the overall health, age, and how serious the tendonitis is.
- A mild case for a person under 40 could heal in two to four weeks
- A moderate case in 4 to 6 weeks
- An extreme case can take months
It is important to not ignore tendonitis, especially if it comes back after having tried the usual therapies.
Symptoms and Signs
Mild cases can feel like sore muscles. However, moderate symptoms, depending on the affected area, can include:
When reaching for something or lifting an object, pain is felt in the shoulder.
Pain sometimes can be sharp on the outside of the elbow joint. This along with sore muscles or muscles that are painful to the touch. In the forearm and wrist, it can happen in the inner elbow but is not as common.
Pain is usually in the inner joint of the wrist or below the thumb. And the joint is tender/sensitive to the touch. It can make driving a painful task.
In the Knee
Swelling and stiffness are common, along with pain when bending, walking, or when putting weight on the affected knee.
In the Foot
Pain is felt in the Achilles and the foot is tender/sensitive when walking.
If left untreated will it go away on its own?
In certain cases. it can but one should never ignore pain symptoms. Pain is the bodys way of telling the individual that there is something wrong.
Resting the affected tendons
The first thing a doctor will say is that the painful area needs to rest from various types of activities. Rest works to alleviate the symptoms of only the mildest forms of tendonitis. Most individuals are unaware that they have tendonitis until it reaches the moderate stage. Resting the affected area does help, however, even with moderate damage, rest alone probably wont take care of the inflammation. An individual will need to do some sort of stretching/strengthening/rehabilitation of the area. Otherwise, when returning to normal activities including what caused the injury the individual is only going to overuse the tendon/s again.
Difficult to completely rest the affected joint/s
Completely resting the arm, hand, shoulder, or foot for 4-6 weeks is a serious challenge. Most individuals will not be able to accomplish this with their job, children, and all the other responsibilities that they have for 4-6 weeks. Most individuals can take a week, but even then don’t really stop using the affected joint completely. When the regular routine returns along with the activity/job that caused the tendonitis, because of the light rest, the pain comes back within a few days to a few weeks.
It can become a chronic condition left untreated
When left untreated tendonitis can become chronic. What happens is the constant inflammation progressively becomes chronic. Healing chronic tendonitis is a long and painful process that can require surgery. A chronic case can take months to heal along with rehabilitation to strengthen the affected tendons. Chronic cases can feel like a knife being driven into the joint, even with simple tasks like turning/pulling a door handle.
Continued use of the joint means inflammation will continue and it will get worse. In severe cases, where conservative treatment/s has not helped surgery could be required. When it comes to tendon surgery, it does not heal like a broken bone. After the surgery, the joint can become permanently stiff and the full range of motion does not return. Healing time is around 12 weeks, depending on the overall health, age, and severity. A full recovery could take as long as 6 months. Avoiding surgery can be accomplished if proper treatment is sought out as soon as there is a feeling of joint tingling, numbness, and pain.
Getting treatment as soon as possible is key. Even if the pain is not tendonitis but a pulled muscle, the body will heal faster with the proper treatment. Chiropractors are highly skilled specialists in the musculoskeletal system. Chiropractic care that includes manipulation, massage, ultrasound, etc. has shown to be highly effective in the treatment of tendonitis. Depending on the diagnosis, a chiropractor will utilize other therapies as a part of the treatment plan, including:
- Therapeutic massage
- Heat therapy
- Rehabilitation exercise
- Rehabilitation stretching
- Cold laser therapy
A chiropractor will perform a complete exam and order x-rays to determine if the pain is tendonitis or some other type of joint problem. A chiropractor will look at the whole body and lifestyle to find the root cause. This will help prevent the injury from reoccurring and become chronic. A chiropractor will also advise on:
- Ergonomic changes to the workstation
- Taking anti-inflammatory supplements
- Refer the individual to a different specialist if other issues fall outside of their range of practice.
Tendonitis left untreated
Untreated tendonitis can lead to the permanent weakening of the tendon. This can lead to a rupture of the tendon, which requires surgery. It can also cause permanent damage to the tissues surrounding the area, as well as, scar tissue can form in and around the area. The pain and inflammation continue because the scar tissue is not as flexible as tendons. This often causes individuals to force the affected joint to work harder causing added inflammation. Untreated tendonitis can turn into a life-long issue that interferes with everyday activities like getting dressed, walking, eating, etc. Get started with a proper treatment and recovery plan to get back to living a healthy, pain-free life.
Tracking inflammation/fluid imbalances from injury or surgery
After surgery or injury, inflammation can present with little or no visible symptoms. Precise measures of the body’s water can detect water retention and inflammation. This could help guide rehabilitation treatment. InBody effectively distinguishes water in the intracellular/within the tissues and extracellular/in the blood/interstitial fluids water that comprises total body water. The Edema Index can be used to detect fluid imbalances resulting from inflammation brought on by injury or surgery recovery. By assessing fluid balance in the body, inflammation can be identified, used to guide treatment options, and reduce the risk of re-injury or post-surgery complications. Tracking these values back to normal will help therapists by providing proof of the success of the treatment plan.
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Dean BJF, et al., Review: Emerging concepts in the pathogenesis of tendinopathy, The Surgeon (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.surge.2017.05.005
Wilson JJ, Best TM. Common overuse tendon problems: a review and recommendations for treatment. Am Fam Phys. Sep 1 2005;72(5):811e8.