Achilles Tendonitis and Tendon Pain Relief

Also known as: Tendonitis, Tendonosis, Calcific Tendonitis, Tendonopathy, Bicipital Tendonitis, Synovitis, Tenosynovitis, Bursitis, Tennis elbow.

Definition: Tendon pain also known as tendonitis is pain which occurs as a result of an irritation, injury, or degeneration of one or more tendons and may involve other tissues such as bones muscles and joints.

Achilles Tendonitis and Tendon Pain Information

Overview: Tendons are very tough fibrous bands of collagen that anchor muscles to their boney attachments. All muscles need tendons to attach to the bones to effect movement of the bones and body. While normal tendons are very tough, they can stretch to a limited extent. Tendons may be injured with sudden pull, such as twisting of the ankle, or knee, or hyper-extending the shoulder, resulting in varying degrees of tearing of the collagen fibers of the tendons, called a sprain or strain. In the case of minor sprains these fibers may be partially separated. In the case of severe sprains, the tendons are completely torn. Achilles tendons are commonly injured in sports, especially in the weekend warriors that are not in condition and have packed on a few extra pounds. Complete rupture of the Achilles tendon is common in these gladiators. In some cases of severe sprain, part of the bone that is attached to the tendons may be broken off. Partial or complete sprains are very common in sports. Sprains are the most common injury involving tendons, and may occur to anyone at any age, regardless of their physical condition.

Tendons may become inflamed with over activity or repetitive use as in athletic or work and is known as tendonitis. Tendonitis may occur in any muscle or joint. The most common examples of tendonitis are shoulder tendonitis, tennis elbow, and Achilles tendonitis. These conditions may become so painful that the involved extremity cannot be used. In certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, the tendons become inflamed and can even degenerate. When tendonitis becomes a chronic condition, the tendons are often replaced by calcium such as calcific tendonitis involving the shoulder.

Tendons can thicken over time depending on the work load demanded of them. When tendons becomes too thick, or hypertrophy, they may actually interfere with other normal tissues such as nerves. Without proper use or with poor conditioning, tendons may actually degenerate, or atrophy, and become weak, resulting in an increased risk of sprain, tearing, or rupturing. Tendon atrophy, known as tendonosis or tendonopathy, can occur in the senior population or in younger people who are disabled. Proper muscle conditioning may prevent tendon atrophy and avoid loss of mobility in the senior years.

Achilles Tendonitis and Tendon Pain Symptoms

Symptoms include pain, swelling, and tenderness in the muscle, tendon, or joint and pain aggravated by movement of the involved body part.

Achilles Tendonitis and Tendon Pain Treatments

While most tendon sprains heal within a few weeks, because tendons are such tough tissues and because the blood flow to tendons is normally limited, healing of some tendon sprains may require weeks or even months. Some tendon tears may require extensive physical rehabilitation. Some tendon tears may never fully recover. The victim of tendon tears may develop chronic pain and weakness in the joint and surrounding muscle tissues. If other nerves are involved in the original injury, the pain may never resolve. Usually minor tendon sprains are treated with rest, elevation of the affected extremity, local ice for 24 to 48 hours followed by heat, and anti inflammatory medications. Occasionally, tendonitis may improve with steroid injections. Even these time-honored therapies may not improve the pain in many tendon injuries or abnormalities. Severe tendon sprains, especially those involving complete tears or bone fractures may require prolonged immobilization or even surgery followed by extensive physical rehabilitation. Severe tendon tears or ruptures may require surgical repair. However, even with the best surgeon, surgery is not always successful and, in many cases the patient’s condition worsens.

The standard treatments for pain due to diseases of the ligaments are over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription narcotic and non-narcotic medication, rest, physical therapy, steroid injections, and traction. As most patients who suffer with this type of chronic pain soon realize, these treatments are usually not sufficient and many, especially the oral medications, are associated with serious side effects such as sedation, nausea, constipation, and even addiction. Extended use of some over-the counter (OTC) medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen may even result in stomach ulcers, kidney failure, heart failure, and liver failure. Many sufferers with tendon pain often search for alternative solutions to the usual over-the-counter and prescription medications. Sudden severe pain, especially in the chest, arms, or head, pain associated with fever, numbness or weakness, or pain in any area of the body that does not resolve after a couple of weeks, should always be evaluated by a physician to be certain that other medical conditions, including heart disease, stroke, infections, or even cancer is not the underlying cause of pain.

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