Have you ever trained hard for a sport or marathon and ended up with an injury, but you’re not sure what type of injury? Many athletes get overuse injuries, but they know their problem isn’t a torn muscle or a bone break. The problem could be tendonitis, which is inflammation and swelling that happens in a tendon when it gets injured. This condition can last for months, which is why you want to enlist professional help to get rid of your tendonitis.
You have joints that connect your bones together and pivot in different directions so you can bend your limbs and move them around. The ligaments in the body are tough, fibrous structures that help bind your bones together. They look similar to how muscle fibers look, but the material is much harder. Ligaments will cover all the joints in the body so those joints can pivot without disconnecting from the bones they attach.
Tendons and muscles are different from your bones and ligaments. They are similar, but not the same. Your skeletal muscles cover your body from head to toe in almost every area. Any body part that moves is thanks to a muscle or groups of muscles all working together to contract or relax to make specific movements possible. That contraction and relaxation allows movements that stem from nerves receiving signals from the brain about how you want to move. All of this happens in an instant without you even thinking about it.
There are at least 650 different muscles in the body. If you include very tiny muscle groups individually, there are as many as 840 muscles in your body. But how do they make movements possible? This is where tendons come in. Just like ligaments attach joints to the bones, the tendons attach your muscles to your bones. They aren’t as tough as ligaments, but they are tougher than muscles. In a way, the tendons are growths of a different substance from the bones that attach the muscles to them. When the muscles move, the attaching tendons move your bones for you.
Just like you can sustain injuries with your muscles, you can sustain them with their connective tissue, the tendons. Commonly, overuse of a muscle or chronic conditions can cause inflammation in your tendons. That inflammation can cause swelling in a tendon, which makes movement painful. That connective tissue is like a rope tugging on your muscles, and if the tissue is swollen and overused, it will cause you chronic pain when you use it. This is what we know as “tendonitis”. The “itis” part in tendonitis refers to inflammation.
You can get this inflammation from working the same muscle groups and joints over and over. The tendons involved may get worked too much, and then you either sustain an injury or tendonitis, which can hurt just as bad as a more major injury. If you continue to use a tendon that has tendonitis, you can end up making the inflammation so bad to a point where tears can happen. Then, it’s really painful.
How do you know your painful symptoms are from tendonitis or if they are from a more major injury? A medical examination is the best way to be sure. However, tendonitis can set in over time. If you spent hours playing tennis one day, you can have pain and inflammation start to set in during the hours following your practice. When you tear or strain a muscle, you will start to feel the effects pretty immediately. Tendonitis can feel like a tear or a strain, but it has a more gradual onset.
Athletes are the most susceptible to tendonitis because they practice so much—sometimes daily—not including the time spent actually playing their sport. Marathoners, avid weight lifters and others who are very active can get tendonitis easily. However, senior citizens and those with chronic conditions are also very susceptible tendonitis because tendons lose elasticity as the body ages. This can cause them to inflame much easier as the years go by.
If you have an injury or you think you have inflammation, make sure you have a medical consultation. Continuing to use an inflamed muscle or tendon can lead to a tear or rupture, which could require surgery and months of rehabilitation. It’s always best to treat a mild injury instead of a chronic one. For patients with tendonitis, we recommend:
To learn about the many different types of rehabilitative therapies we have to strengthen muscles and tendons, call Olathe Chiropractic today at (913) 732-0087!