Target Tendon Injuries: Ease Your Pain

Target Tendon Injuries: Ease Your Pain

A New Way to Tackle Tendon Injuries

Tendon injuries or tendinopathies account for around 20% of all musculoskeletal complaints. They are commonly mistaken for inflammation of the area but studies tell us they are due to degeneration often associated with overuse. Some of the most common areas affected include tennis elbow, golfers elbow, knee pain, Achilles pain, trochanteric bursitis and the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. In the past this type of tendon injury was tackled with rest and anti-inflammatories and they would commonly linger for extended periods from months to years. These days they are addressed with an individualised exercise program structured to remodel and strengthen the tendon. Because of the nature of tendons, primarily made of collagen with limited cells and often poor blood supply, healing of these conditions can be 5-6 times slower than muscle. This has led health professionals to explore ways to speed recovery back to sport and activities you enjoy. PRP (Plasma Rich Platelet) Injections are one way to do just that.

So what are PRP injections?

Basically your doctor takes a sample of your own blood and spins it to separate the components. Once spun there is a red, darker component as well as a clear fluid component. This clear fluid is called plasma. Plasma is full of growth factors and other healing mediators. The plasma is then injected into the damaged area of the tendon to aid tissue regeneration. There have been a number of preliminary studies and promising case reports on the use of PRP injections to aid and stimulate healing of tendons. More thorough scientific research is currently underway and it will be interesting to see if it backs up the positive reactions currently seen in clinical setting. Watch this space! It must be stressed that PRP Injections are not a miracle cure and should only be considered in conjunction with an evidence based rehabilitation program including graded exercise to increase strength and length.

When rehabilitating as well as preventing tendon injuries it is important to be aware of the types of activities involved in your work and play. If you are doing repetitive tasks with arms or legs, think about starting a postural strength and stretching program. Be alert to early warning signs, niggles, catches and sometimes even mild pain. Make sure you start learning specific strategies to release your own tightness and tackle early symptoms IMMEDIATELY! It is a mistake to feel the first niggles of an injury and just presume they will go away. Elbow pain, knee pain, hip pain, shoulder pain should be identified immediately as in day one! Check in on your health care professional and get them to teach you how to ease your own tension. Once you have learnt specific skills and strategies for easing tightness you can then target and prevent symptoms before they progress to a more serious or chronic injury. Taking a leadership role in managing your body you want to repeat this process throughout life. Your quality depends on it. Nip problems in the bud because we know prevention is better than cure. If pain persists get back to your health care professional and start planning now for a healthier life forever.

Paul Trevethan BPhty / Physiotherapist / Director Body Leadership Australia