A strained tendon is a common and painful injury. Tendon strains are very common to runners and cyclists, as well as football, tennis and other athletes. However, many people will experience a strain to the tendon at some point in their lives.
If you have a strained tendon, it is very important to make sure it heals properly to decrease the chance of re-injuring the tendon. Re-injury of a strained or stressed tendon occurs more easily than the initial injury and there is usually more inflammation around a re-injured tendon than there was during the first injury. A strain left untreated can easily become a chronic problem that disrupts your participation in activities that you enjoy, something we often take for granted.
Grades of Tendon Strains
A tendon or muscle can be strained to varying degrees depending on the force that caused the strain and the strength of the tendon or muscle tissue. There are 3 difference grades of tendon strains and the grade is determined by the severity of the tissue damage.
Grade 1 - Mild Strain
A grade 1 strain is the least serious of tendon strains. With a grade 1 strain there is some stretching or minor tearing of the tendon tissue. These injuries usually heal quickly if treated properly with cold compression and ultrasound. Once the stretching and tearing has healed, it is important to improve the health of the tendon and restore the elasticity to the tendon with Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy (BFST®) to reduce the risk of restraining it again.
Grade 2 - Moderate Strain
A grade 2 strain occurs when a tendon or muscle is partially torn but still intact. If you have a grade 2 strain, strength in the tendon and muscles is noticeably reduced. Approximately 75% of grade 2 tears occur in sports that involve sprinting or repetitive jumping. This grade of strain can also be effectively treated with cold compression, ultrasound therapy and BFST®. It is also recommended that you allow your injury to rest and possibly wear a brace to allow the tendon tear to heal.
Grade 3 - Rupture or Severe Strain
When the tendon is completely torn (ruptured) it is considered a grade 3 tear. Stability is greatly reduced and pain is evident. Treatment of a complete tendon tear generally requires surgery to rejoin the tendon to the bone or back together at the point of the tear. Cold compression, ultrasound therapy and BFST® can be used prior to surgery to minimize tissue damage, resulting in a less invasive surgery.
In addition, using these therapies following surgery will help to repair and strengthen the tendon faster and more completely. With these therapies you will have less scar tissue formation on your tendon leaving it more elastic and less painful than if it was left to heal on its own.
If you have suffered a tendon strain you may be experiencing the following symptoms:
- Pain in your tendon when you flex or extend.
- Muscle spasm in the adjoining muscles.
- Pain and tenderness may occur when the tendon is examined by touch (palpated).
- Noticeable loss of strength in a grade 2 or 3 tendon strain.
A strain in the tendon is caused by excessive twisting and turning, a sudden traumatic injury, improper training or overuse during a prolonged period of time.
Whether you are a runner/athlete, painting on a ladder, or walking on ice, an unfortunate twist and awkward fall can cause you to strain a tendon if it is twisted abnormally. As well, using your body when it is not warmed up properly (i.e. sprinting or overstretching it before the fibres are warm) can also lead to an acute tendon strain. Repetitive overuse of your muscles and tendons can cause a strain overtime.
Tendon Strain Treatments
The trick with any tendon strain is getting it to heal with minimal scar tissue formation and with as much realignment of the tendon fibres as possible - something ultrasound therapy is great at! Even with optimum healing, there is always less elasticity in a previously injured tendon. This will cause the tendon to hurt during exercise and most everyday activities. However, if you heal your injured tendon efficiently and quickly, your chance of re-injury later on is much lower.
Allowing your injured tendon and adjacent muscle to rest is always recommended following injury. Avoid all activities that may have caused the injury or irritation and begin cold compression treatments as soon as possible. There are healing tools that can help treat your tendon and speed up the healing process so you can get back to a life without pain and risk of further injury.
If you have been diagnosed with a strained tendon, it is recommended that you rest the injured body part from any aggravating factors, especially the task(s) that caused the condition. Your physician may also recommend painkillers/anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy, cold compression therapy, ultrasound therapy, or Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy (BFST®).
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