Tendons connect muscle to bone, and that can put them at risk of becoming inflamed and even tearing. While the tissue itself is fibrous and very tough, overuse, overextension, and trauma can result in pain, stiffness, and limited mobility. Tendonitis, or overuse tendinopathy, is a broad term used to describe an inflammation of the tendon that can range from very minor to debilitating. Sometimes, on the milder end of the scale, tendonitis can heal on it own. However, more severe cases may require surgery.
The degree of inflammation and injury must be determined by a doctor who will assess this with a thorough clinical examination and discussion of symptoms. In some cases, if it isn’t treated, tendonitis can lead to stiffness and other problems.
Stages of Tendon Healing
Any type of connective tissue can repair itself and tendons are no exception. However, there are several factors that determine how well it heals. Tendons do not have the same vascular structure as muscles, and the blood supply is poor. In the body, tissue repair and healing are very dependent upon good blood flow, so it can make recovery a challenge. Tendons usually heal in three stages.
Stage 1: Response to Inflammation
In the first stage when the body identifies inflammation in the body, certain cells rush to the site of the injury to begin the process of healing, often observed as swelling at the site. This includes getting rid of any tissue that is damaged and stimulates cells that start repairing the damaged tissue. For instance, if the hand or wrist is damaged, the body will begin responding to the hand pain or wrist pain, and the body will begin to repair naturally.
Stage II: Healing and Repair of Damaged Tissue
During this stage, the tissue begins to heal and repair. Tendon cells, called tenocytes, spring into action, proliferating and synthesizing as they create collagen, using it to bind the torn ends to each other. Even tiny tears are repaired this way with new strands of collagen laid over the edges to form a seal, bringing them together.
Stage III: Maturation and Remodeling of Repaired Tissue
At this stage of healing the new collagen begins to mature over the torn edges of the tendon, forming strong fibers that begin to naturally align with the tissue’s mechanical stress direction at the injury site. It begins to cross-link and remodel so that the bond at the tear is stronger than the unaffected tissue. In short, the tendon at that point is stronger than it was prior to the injury.
If you have tendonitis, you don’t have to suffer. We can help. At the Florida Hand Center, our doctors are highly trained and experienced in treating a wide range of hand and wrist issues. We have wrist and hand treatment options that range from therapeutic to surgical. We can help you manage your pain and heal from injury so that most of the time you are able to return to your normal activities. Call our office today to schedule your appointment and get the relief you need and deserve.