Why do Tendon Injuries take so long to heal?

If you have ever incurred a tendon injury, you know how long and frustrating the recovery can be. Tendons act to connect muscles to bone and are found in differing shapes and sizes around the human body. There are many reasons as to why recovery can be so strenuous.

Tendon Injuries often develop gradually.

Tendons are able to transmit forces from muscles to the bones, causing movement, however they respond to stimuli at a slower rate when compared to muscles. Tendons are less susceptible to increases in strength when compared to muscles, therefore as muscles become stronger and take on more load, the tendons can fail to keep up with the increased demand becoming damaged and causing pain. It can take a while to feel the pain associated with tendon damage and therefore the injury can become progressively worse whilst undetected. There is also likely to be multiple factors that caused the injury, meaning that the physio will need to assess all aspects, including biomechanics and training regimes in order to resolve the problem.

Tendons have limited blood supply.

Although tendons have their own blood supply, it isn’t as abundant as muscles. This is a major factor in healing as nutrients for healing are carried through the blood, hence the recovery is likely to be longer. Any condition that compromises circulation, such as diabetes, can predispose tendons to injury and delay healing.

Rest and stretching may not necessarily help.

Often stretching is your immediate instinct to help improve recovery, and will sometimes aggravate symptoms. Rest may reduce the appearance of symptoms; however it will not necessarily help with recovery. Evidence based research shows that the best way to promote healthy tendon growth is through addressing poor biomechanics and an individualised strength program written by your physiotherapist.

Recovery often relies on adherence to a specific rehab program.

Individual form and adherence to a specific program of exercises acts as the biggest barrier to healing tendon pain as it can take time and discipline. Your physiotherapist can also help you to find strategies to fit your exercises into your daily routine if you are struggling.

Ask your physiotherapist for more information about tendon pain.

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