What is a tendinopathy?
A tendinopathy is a disease of the tendons. Tendons are found throughout the body and are bands of connective tissue that connect muscles to bone. They are usually able to withstand significant amounts of tension. Tendinopathies are often tendinitis, whereby there is inflammation of the tendon, resulting in pain and sometimes swelling. This can occur at any tendon in the body, eg an Achilles tendonitis occurs at the Achilles tendon.
What treatments are currently available for tendonitis?
If you see your doctor and they diagnose you with a tendonitis injury, there are a number of initial treatments that will probably be offered to you. These include:
- Rest – stop exercising and rest up until you feel better
- Ice – put some ice on the injury to reduce the swelling and inflammation (this should help to reduce pain in the region)
- Compress – wrap a bandage around the injury to help support the joint
- Elevate – elevate the injury by putting the joint on a pillow or something else that will raise it upwards.
If these home tips don’t work they might recommend:
- Steroid injections: these work by reducing inflammation in the tendon. The steroid is injected directly into the tendon site and reduces inflammation that in turn reduces the firing of pain fibres.
- Shockwave therapy: there is some evidence that shock wave therapy can help improve recovery time
- Surgery is the tendon is found to be ruptured surgery may be required
- Physiotherapy: this may also be offered to you and will involve building up the strength of the surrounding muscles to reduce strain and tension on the tendon.
What about platelet rich plasma therapy?
Most of the therapies listed above don’t actually fix the issue, they simply reduce the pain and swelling of the injury. Platelet-rich plasma therapy injections hope to change that. The materials found in them are pro-healing and theoretically reduce the amount of time needed for the injury to heal completely. The theory is all well and good – but is there any evidence they actually work?
Luckily a new study looked at whether PRP therapy was effective. They conducted a meta-analysis (which in effect combines all the other studies in existence to create one very large data set). The results were published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine and are great news for anyone suffering from a tendinopathy injury.
They included 18 total studies, in which an incredible 1066 patients were treated. They found to conclude that
“There is good evidence to support the use of a single injection of LR-PRP under ultrasound guidance in tendinopathy. Both the preparation and intratendinous injection technique of PRP appears to be of great clinical significance.”
As such PRP is a safe and effective treatment that unfortunately is not routinely offered by family doctors. If you are suffering from a tendinopathy injury, consider getting in contact with a specialist clinic that can provide the injection.