Tendons are a band of tissue that connects the muscles to the bones. Tendons transfer force from muscles to allow for movement and can handle a lot of use and power. However, the structures can become injured from extreme force and repetitive motions. Treatment for tendon injuries can restore regular movement over time, but the process can be lengthy.
Tendons and ligaments are often confused; they are both fibrous connective tissues but have different functions. Tendon connects muscle to the bone and withstands great use. Ligaments are designed to stabilize joints and connect bone to bone. In addition, ligaments are needed to prevent excessive movement, while tendons help create movement.
Treating tendon injuries
Tendons are more than just connective tissue. They are a living structure that has blood vessels and nerves. When tendons become injured, the inflammatory response occurs, and within seconds the area can become flooded with blood. When an area is flooded with blood, inflammation can occur. Excessive information causes pain in tendon injuries can be quite painful. Therefore, managing inflammation is vital for treating tendon injuries and cutting down on symptoms like the sensation of heat, swelling, and stiffness.
Many doctors recommend the RICE method for treating tendon injuries at the beginning. The RICE method is rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Resting can help prevent further damage to the tendons and ice helps to reduce inflammation. Compression and elevation are used to slow down fluid buildup and swelling at the sight of injury.
For mild cases of tendon tears, extended rest is required for healing. The repair process may take several weeks, and you must take time off for physical activities and sports to prevent further injury to the tendon. A balanced diet can help repair muscles and tendons. Nutrients needed to repair cells include vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Malnutrition delays or halts the healing process.
Physical therapy can be part of the tendon healing process. The physical therapist may give you exercises that target adjacent muscles in connective tissues to help strengthen the body. If the injury is severe, you may need a special brace to mobilize the area during healing. These braces can cause muscles to lose strength due to the lack of activity. After the tendon is repaired, you can strengthen that area of your body again through physical therapy.
If the injured tendon cannot heal without surgical intervention, it may be necessary to have surgery to repair the torn or injured tendon. Surgical repair is often needed for significant tendon tears. Flint Foot and Ankle can assess a tendon tear and determine if surgical intervention is necessary. Not repairing significant tears could have lasting repercussions and affect mobility and physical ability permanently.
During the surgical process, the surgeon will assess the injured tendon perform any necessary repairs, and then close the incision. The surgical procedure takes several weeks to heal, and then physical therapy can begin to strengthen and heal your injured body part.
Complete, but not retracted, tendon or ligament
Tears may sound like they require surgical care. Not all complete tears need surgery to heal. Non-retracted tears can often heal because the long fibers remain intact, allowing the tendon to heal. The structure of the tendons, muscles, and bones still holds itself together, and the body can repair these injuries. This process can be lengthy, but your doctor can advise on the benefits of allowing your body to heal naturally. Each situation is different, and complete non-retracted tendon tears can require surgery.
Complete retracted or ruptured tendon injuries mean the tendon has completely separated, and both ends are retracted, meaning the structure is no longer intact. These types of injuries always require surgery.
Don’t Wait…Visit a Foot and Ankle Surgeon in Boise Immediately
The severity of tendon injuries can be hard to determine. However, over time the severity becomes more apparent—the type of injury you have and the severity can impact whether surgery is necessary. In addition, if you experience an injury that does not repair on its own it may be required to see an orthopedic physician. Flint Foot and Ankle can help determine how severe injuries are and help you get back to a healthy functioning body. Don’t wait any longer if you suspect you have a torn tendon.