Whether someone is experiencing pitcher's shoulder, tennis elbow, or runner's knee, anyone with tendonitis wants relief from pain. The soreness, aching sensation and chronic discomfort of tendonitis around muscles are caused when a tendon connecting a muscle to a bone is overused, injured or used improperly. Millions of Americans seek treatment each year for symptoms related to tendonitis. Once tendonitis has been properly diagnosed, a natural approach to treatment that addresses the underlying cause of the injury can be arranged with a chiropractor. With good chiropractic treatment, tendonitis can heal and the person can prevent reinjuring the affected area.
The primary objective when treating tendonitis is to make an accurate diagnosis of the problem, ruling out any other possible underlying causes of the pain. This is necessary because the joint pain and stiffness of tendonitis are similar to the experience of bursitis or arthritis. X-rays, CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scans (an x-ray procedure used to create cross-sectional or three-dimensional images) and MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging) are tools a chiropractor might use to obtain an accurate diagnosis for tendonitis pain.
After the diagnosis, a chiropractor will select a natural treatment plan that addresses the cause of the tendonitis, rather than simply treating symptoms. Initially, the chiropractor may support and protect the injured tendons by bracing those portions of the tendon that were pulled. The tendon needs to be loosened and the inflammation reduced. Treatments that follow might include ultrasound, ice, rest, temporary immobilization, electrical muscle stimulation, manual trigger point therapy (applying firm pressure by hand on a trigger point for several seconds and then stretching the muscle afterward), strengthening exercises, physical rehabilitation, and/or manual massage. Joint manipulation may also be performed on individuals with diminished joint mobility. Proper treatment administered by a chiropractor should result in the pain and inflammation in the tendon decreasing during the first three weeks. Completed healing of the tendonitis, however, will not be achieved so quickly and can take up to 2 months or longer. During these this healing time, scar tissue is formed, which initially helps bond the tissue back together.
The scar tissue needs to be broken down so the tendon and muscle regain flexibility, which lessens the chance of further injury. At first, a chiropractor may treat scar tissue with ultrasound and manual massage. Ultrasound involves using sound waves to soften the scar tissue, enabling it to break down. It also helps increase circulation to the tissue. Ultrasound may also be used to assist with moving topical nutrient and pain solutions deeper into the tissues. Mild stretches that do not irritate the tendons can be incorporated. Once the tissues have healed, exercise can help further break down scar tissue. During this period, longer stretches should target only the muscles, not the affected tendons.
Sometimes, scar tissue will continue forming for up to a year after the initial injury. The scar tissue causes the injured muscle to tighten and shorten, creating increased stress on the muscle. This tightness can pull the bone and joint out of normal alignment, placing even more pressure and irritation on the original injured tendon or on a related tendon. More inflammation, tearing, pain, and swelling may occur. Such a condition requires a realignment of the tissues in the affected area, which can be done by a chiropractor.