We’re finally getting back outside in Minnesota! It’s the time of year when we all take advantage of the weather and the extra daylight. This leads to more gardening, tennis, golf, and all the great outdoor living. Unfortunately, this can lead to an increase in tendon injuries, most commonly tennis and golfer’s elbow.
We see a significant increase in tendonitis during spring, and usually, people will spend all summer suffering through the discomfort because they don’t know that you can get help. In this blog, we will talk about common tendon pains, how tennis elbow and golfers elbow start, what happens to the tendon, why it hurts so darn much, common pitfalls in tendon recovery, and how to fix tendon pain.
Let’s get the lowdown tendon pain and get rid of Golfers and Tennis elbow in St. Peter
What are the symptoms of tennis and golfer’s elbow?
The symptoms of tennis and golfer’s elbow can vary, but they often include:
- Pain in the outside of the elbow
- Weakness in the forearm
- Difficulty gripping objects
- Tenderness to the touch
What causes tennis and golfer’s elbow?
Tennis and golfer’s elbow are most commonly caused by repetitive use of the forearm muscles. This can happen with activities such as:
- Playing tennis or golf
- Using a computer mouse
- Lifting heavy objects
- Doing yard work
Why am I getting tendon injuries?
Most of the tendon injuries come from us using the area, often too much after a period of inactivity. For example, you have spent the winter inside, and now on the first nice days, you get out of the golf clubs and start hitting balls. You don’t warm up because you’re just going to hit a few, then you hit more than you thought after seeing a friend at the club, and before you know it, the arm starts to hurt. Normally this scenario leaves a small soreness in the arm for a day or 2 when you are in your teens and 20’s, now in your 30s and beyond the pain is sticking around, and after a few weeks, you start to wonder when this is going away.
What is tendinopathy?
Tendinopathy is a condition that affects the tough tissues that connect muscles to bones. Tendinopathy can cause pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the affected area. It is a common condition that can affect people of all ages, but it is most common in athletes and people who do a lot of repetitive movements.
What are the most common symptoms of tendinopathy?
The symptoms of tendinopathy can vary depending on the type of tendinopathy and the severity of the condition. Some common symptoms include:
- Pain in the affected area
- Difficulty moving the affected area
Now these symptoms are pretty general, right? We all have dealt with that kind of stuff before. If you have tendon pain it’s a little different, it’s that sharp pain that you don’t even want to touch, if you have been sitting around and you go to use it the pain is like glass in the tissue, it seems to loosen up and feel better once you’ve moved it but the pain can be blistering if you put too much weight on it unexpectedly.
What happens to our tendons when they get injured?
The tendon will go through 4 phases. We will cover them below. It is important to understand that a tendon can be in different phases at the same time in different parts of the tendon. This is another reason it is so important to get help with these injuries.
- Inflammation Phase: This is the initial stage of the injury. It starts with swelling and redness around the injured area, such as the elbow for tennis or the golfer’s elbow.
- Degeneration Phase: After the inflammation phase, the tendon starts to deteriorate or break down. During this phase, you may feel persistent pain and notice weakness in your arm. Simple tasks like shaking hands, lifting objects, or even turning a doorknob may become difficult and painful.
- Repair Phase: In this phase, the body tries to heal the damaged tendon. The pain may start to lessen, and men may notice a gradual improvement in their arm’s strength. However, it’s essential to be patient during this phase because complete healing can take several weeks
- Insufficient Rest and Overloading: One of the most common pitfalls is returning to activities too quickly without allowing adequate rest and healing time for the tendon. Overloading the injured tendon can impede recovery and prolong the healing process.
What are the most common reasons we have tendon injuries?
These injuries can be predictable. Most tendon injuries you can look back on it and say that’s where it started. Below are the most common reasons we see it.
- Overuse. This is by far the most common issue, when you start doing a new activity and don’t prepare for it the tendon is unable to adapt and you exceed its capacity. This happens in all areas of our lives but in tennis and golfer’s elbow, it’s usually because we get the itch to start playing and then don’t warm up, stretch or recover.
- Age. As we age all our tissues become less resilient, we all notice the little things as we get older and our underlying health can make a big difference in how we feel, play, and recover. If you are not taking great care of yourself year-round then when you want to get active it gets a lot tougher.
- Genetics. This is the least likely consideration in our experience. Most people who have genetic tendon issues have known their whole lives and have taken steps.
You should consider some odds-and-ends triggers, such as poor posture, bad form, poor warm-up, overuse, some medications, and previous injury.
Why isn’t your tendon injury getting better? How long should it take to heal?
- Lack of Load Management: Overdoing it with weight and load on the tendon during activities can hinder recovery. It’s crucial to gradually and progressively increase activities’ intensity, duration, and frequency to allow the tendon to adapt and strengthen. You can’t rush things. If you push it too soon, you’ll take steps backward.
- Incomplete Rehabilitation: People will stop when they start to feel better. When a tendon starts to improve, you have to keep pushing it. Consistent and targeted exercises are essential to restore tendon strength, flexibility, and function.
- Ignoring Pain Signals: Pushing through pain or ignoring persistent symptoms can harm recovery. It’s important to listen to the body’s signals and modify activities accordingly to avoid exacerbating the injury.
- Psychological Factors: Tendon injuries can impact individuals psychologically, leading to fear, frustration, or reduced confidence in returning to activities. Addressing these psychological factors and adopting a positive mindset is important for successful recovery.
What can we do to get better?
Take it seriously and be an active participant in getting better. Working with an experienced clinician can make the difference between weeks and months in your recovery.
Whenever you are active, use the traffic light pain plan.
- Green-pain levels between 0-3, no sharp or radiating pain, and it is not worsening. This usually means it’s safe to continue what you are doing.
- Yellow-pain levels between 4-6. Pain is now starting to get concerning, we should be changing what we are doing or stopping. Pain needs to reduce back to pre-activity levels within 45mn, or that activity should be avoided.
- Red-Pain above a 6 should be avoided. Stop your activity, and you should be seeking medical advice.
The things that you can do at home to recover from tendon pain.
- Rest for the first couple of days, let the initial intense pain settle down, during this time light movement and light stretch are helpful. Remember this is only for about 5-10 days at the most.
- Start moving it, gentle stretching, light resistance training.
- Ice is not going to cure it but it may reduce the intensity of the pain. When using ice, don’t go longer than 20mn every 2-3 hours. If you don’t feel any better then it probably isn’t worth doing.
- Give us a call, we specialize in tendon injuries and have several specialized approaches to help.
What do we do to help tendon injuries?
- You will get a thorough assessment, your diagnosis is a critical part of getting better fast. You wouldn’t want to spend an extra second hurting.
- Specific stretching and exercises. These tissues need to work, if you aren’t loading them correctly they won’t get better.
- Supplements that reduce inflammation and help speed up healing. For things like Fish Oil, we use a high EPA concentration to promote reducing inflammation without stopping it, Collagen Renew, is a specific type of collagen that supports these tissues in their recovery.
- Deep tissue laser therapy. This therapy shines for tendon pain. Patients often feel the difference in their first treatments.
- Active Release, Graston, and IASTM therapy. These hands-on therapies help promote faster recovery by promoting improved blood flow and range of motion in the injury.
- Good advice, we will help direct you through all the phases of tendon injury and help you get better.
Don’t Live with Tendon pain in St. Peter
The takeaway, the longer you wait to seek help often means the longer you are going to spend getting better. If you have been dealing with tendon pain for more than a month don’t wait another minute. Call us, and we can help you get back to your life.