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Bodywork for the Treatment of Tendonitis

July 19, 2022

At Bodywork Masters we focus on the whole body to treat soft tissue related pains, such as tendonitis. The human body has around 4000 tendons throughout the body. Tendons are thick cords of connective tissue that attach your bones to your muscles. When you contract a muscle, the tendon moves the bone. Tendons, by design, do not stretch much in order to protect the muscle.

Tendonitis occurs when you have tiny tears in the tendons. This may happen with overuse of the muscle or through an injury.  Torn tendons will become inflamed and irritated resulting in pain that can last for weeks, or even months. With bodywork treatment you can speed up recovery time and feel better sooner.

Where does Tendonitis Occur Most Often?

Tendonitis can develop anywhere a tendon attaches to the bone but the most common places are:

  • elbow
  • shoulder/neck
  • Achilles heel/calf
  • thumb
  • hip

Tendonitis is described as a dull achy pain at the site that intensifies when moving. There may be tenderness and mild swelling too. The Achilles is the largest tendon in the body. 

What are the Causes of Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is caused by overuse or stress on the tendons. Since many sports require repetition of the same muscles, tendonitis is common in athletes. You may be familiar with some of the names given to tendonitis caused by sports related injuries such as “Tennis or Golfers Elbow”, “Quarterback Shoulder”, or even “Jumpers Knee”. 

You do not have to be an athlete to suffer from tendonitis. You can get it from gardening, painting, shoveling, cleaning the house, raking and many more common routines. 

We know that sports and work that have repetitive motions are causes of tendonitis but there are other factors that may make a person more susceptible. Some other risk factors include:

  • poor posture
  • rheumatoid arthritis/gout
  • blood or kidney disease
  • age - those 40 years and older are at risk because tendons have less elasticity, tolerate less stress and tear more easily

Treatment for Tendonitis

When dealing with any injury or illness you want to avoid surgery or taking long term medication, if at all possible. With severe and chronic tendonitis, Cortisone injections, a steroid to reduce inflammation given in a medical office, or surgery may be necessary but it is important to investigate other less invasive options.

When you start having pain you should rest and stop doing the activity that is causing the pain. You can use ice for 10 minutes or less once a day. You can also add some heat in the form of a heating pad following the ice to get the blood circulating. An over the counter pain reliever will decrease the inflammation and lessen the intensity of the pain. It's important to note that pain medication is meant to be used for a short duration to handle acute pain and should not be taken for longer periods. It will lose its effectiveness and may cause stomach irritation and other side effects.

Why Bodywork is a Good Treatment Option

Bodywork is a good treatment option because tendonitis is caused by tight and damaged connective tissue. Using myofascial release, bodywork can relieve the tension on the tendon and break up scar tissue that may have formed. Any bound muscles can also be manually separated. With stimulation, blood flow and circulation will increase to aid in healing. This will result in decreased inflammation and increased range of motion in the joint. 

Tips from the Expert

Bob Tricomi, LMT, owner of Bodywork Masters treats many tendonitis clients. “When a tendon is agitated by tension from a muscle we can manually locate the muscle that is causing the tension and use a multitude of techniques to release it. Often we find 2 or more muscles clumped to the connective tissue (fascia). We refer to them as adhesions. By using myofascial release, focusing of manual pressure and stretching of the tissue, we are able to release the tension by manually releasing any adhesions or tight muscles and restoring blood flow. In addition, we will often use cupping to stimulate increased blood flow to the affected area.” 

During the first session for tendonitis we can release the tension on the muscle and begin the healing. The length of treatment depends on whether the tendonitis is acute (came on recently), or chronic (generally 3 or more weeks).

Treatment for new cases of tendonitis will require less sessions since the adhesions will be easier to release thereby allowing the healing process to begin. Adhesions that have been formed over a longer duration tend to take more effort and time to release. 

It is important to identify and understand which repetitive activity is causing the tendonitis. You may be able to learn better mechanics to lessen the tension put on the joint. 

Recently Bob treated a client with tendonitis in his elbow. The client was playing a lot of baseball and he was throwing the ball repetitively for several months. The client reported tightness and pain in his elbow after throwing and needed to rest his elbow in order to decrease the pain. During the initial evaluation, Bob found that the client had two tight tendons on the outer area of his elbow, referred to as Golfers elbow. The treatment consisted of myofascial release of the tendons to lengthen and release the tension. The long, deep strokes of the myofascial release eased the adhesions that formed around the elbow and decreased the pain. The area of the bicep and shoulder were also addressed since the client had a lot of tightness in that area as well. The client was treated one to two times a week for several weeks and then was back to playing pain-free baseball. 

For competitive athletes bodywork should be part of the overall conditioning regimen. Smooth moving muscles and tendons create better mechanics. Athletes with bound muscles and tissues tend to compensate by using adjacent muscles that do not function with proper mechanics. This imbalance can lead to injury. With regular bodywork, muscles can remain free of adhesions and tendons loose to prevent possible injury.

Proper diet, regular exercise and healthy tissue keep us in our best form. The better condition your connective tissue is in, the healthier and stronger you are and the more resistant you are to injury. Make bodywork part of your overall wellness routine to live pain free.

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