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Doctors are starting to catch up with the research

A reader sent this link in to me a few days ago. (Thanks, James!) It’s from a fairly hard-core weightlifting gym that has a website and forum attached. There’s a pretty good discussion of tendon pain, but the part that I wanted to show you is the following. It’s a summary of what a doctor said when he visited the gym to do a presentation on tendonopathy:

The common view of tendon injuries was once that the majority of the time a patient comes in with a tendon problem, it must be a tendonitis. Tendonitis implies that there is an inflammation of the tendon which needs to be decreased, and then the problem will go away. A typical true tendonitis will resolve in 2-4 weeks if it is a new onset, and if it is a longer standing tendonitis it should be better in 4-6 weeks – recovery rate from a “true” tendonitis is 99%. The common tendonitis treatment is anti-inflammatories, rest, and ice. Typically people who have had long term problem and go in for treatment with this protocol will not respond very well and will become quite frustrated…

…New research has lead medical professionals to realize that in the majority of patients (about 90%) who come in with “tendonitis” the problem is no longer tendonitis, but tendonosis which is a degenerative condition of the tendon.

There you have it; as good a summary as I’ve seen. (For the entire thread, click here.) If you’ve been diagnosed with tendonitis but it hasn’t gone away after a few weeks of aggressive icing and so on, chances are about 99% that it isn’t tendonitis at all.

If your doctor doesn’t understand this distinction, or if he pays lip-service to the idea of “tendonosis” but still insists on treating you with ice, NSAIDs and the rest of the usual prescription, you owe it to yourself to get better information. Trying to treat a tendon degeneration problem with protocols designed to combat inflammation is just asking for failure.

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