by Jenna Birtch, RMT
Tendons are bundles or bands of strong fibers that connect muscles to the bones. They transmit the force from the muscle to the bone to produce the movement of joints. When in a good state, tendons glide easily and smoothly as the muscles contract.
Like some parts of the body, tendons tend to get overworked especially when a person is engaged in rigorous and prolonged actions such as sports, or experiences a repetitive strain injury from various activities. When this fibrous tissue tears apart, it becomes inflamed. This inflammation is commonly described as tendonitis. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), though inflammation is a tissue’s natural response to injury, if it remains untreated, inflamed tendons become thickened, irregular and permanently weakened over time.
The bone and muscle which the tendon bonds to heal relatively faster, but tendons have a relatively poor blood supply, and for that reason, it recovers slowly. While there is evidence that suggests supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin (which are commonly used to treat osteoarthritis) may also be used in preventing and treating tendonitis, there is still no direct proof that these supplements work. That’s why many who suffer in tendonitis choose massage as an alternative treatment.
The benefits of massage for tendonitis are many. There are various massage therapy techniques that work on the injured fibers in order to increase circulation and stimulate the fibroblast proliferation in the tendon which helps with the repair of any damaged collagen. As referred by Dr. Ombregt, the author of the book A System of Orthopaedic Medicine, massage can be used after an injury and for mechanical overuse in muscular, tendinous and ligamentous structures. In many instances, it can be a good alternative to an injection of steroids. It is a common clinical observation that application of massage therapy leads to immediate pain relief – the patient experiences a numbing effect during the massage and after the session shows a reduction in pain and increase in strength and mobility. Massage is usually slower in effect than injections but leads to a physically more fundamental resolution, resulting in a more permanent cure and less recurrence.
When suffering from tendonitis, it’s always best to consult a Registered Massage Therapist who understands the complications of the tissues and who is well-versed with massage techniques that work or do not work in a particular area of the body. At Jenna Birtch Registered Massage Therapy Clinic we understand what it takes to bring relief to people suffering from tendonitis. If you are suffering from tendonitis contact the clinic at 519-854-9515 and arrange to see a Registered Massage Therapist today!
- De Bruijn R. (1984). Deep transverse friction: it’s analgesic effect. International Journal of Sports medicine 5:35-36
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/tendon_disorders.html. Article accessed online on 5/18/2013.
- Ombregt, L., Bisschop, P., ter Veer, H. (2003) A system of Orthopaedic Medicine.
- NYU Langone Medical Center http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=38402#Other. Article accessed online on 5/19/2013.