BLOG

Why Do Tendons Take So Long To Heal?

Tendons are thick, fibrous bands of tissue that anchor muscles to bones. They are extremely important for normal, coordinated body movements. Tendons are strong tissues; nevertheless, they’re prone to injury. Tendon injuries, especially common in athletes, are usually caused by overwork or sudden excessive force.

Compared to injuries to other types of tissue, tendon injuries take a lot of time to heal, which can be a cause of concern, especially for athletes who can’t afford to spend too much time away from the field.

In this article, we’ll look at why tendons take so long to heal and the available treatments for tendon injuries.

Tendons: Anatomy and Function

Tendons act as levers that transmit the force of muscle contraction to the bones and the joints and bring about movement. So, when a muscle contracts or relaxes, the tendon pulls or pushes away the bone and causes movement.

Tendons are present all through the body; wherever there are bones and skeletal muscles, there are tendons. Tendons are made up of bundles of collagen fibers that are arranged in parallel and tightly packed. This arrangement makes tendons extremely strong and resilient, so they can withstand a lot of force without getting damaged.

But tendons can also be quite stiff, so when exposed to excessive shearing force, they can be damaged. Tendon injuries can result in severe pain, joint stiffness and tenderness and may keep you away from activity for a long time.

Types of Tendon Injuries

The most common injuries to the tendon include:

Strains

Excessive stretch or partial tearing of the fibers forming the tendon

Tendonitis

Inflammation of the tendon which usually occurs due to acute overuse or sudden injury — common in the ankle (Achilles tendonitis), knee (patellar tendonitis), shoulder (rotator cuff tendonitis) or elbow (medial and lateral epicondylitis)

Tendinosis

Degeneration of the tendon caused by chronic overuse — usually seen in hamstring tendons.

Complete tear of the tendon

Complete rupture of all the fibers forming the tendon, resulting in the muscle partially or fully detaching from the bone

Treatments for Tendon Injuries

Treatments for tendon injuries depend on the severity. They include:

RICE

RICE is an acronym for rest, ice, compression and elevation. This treatment strategy is employed immediately after the injury. Resting the tendon in its neutral position prevents further damage to the tendon, icing relieves inflammation and compression and elevation prevent swelling of the affected area. The combined effect is pain relief.

Rest

If the injury is mild, the doctor may prescribe rest for a few weeks to allow the tendon to heal. Training or exercising during this period may aggravate the injury. For a more severe injury, the doctor may prescribe a brace to keep the limb from moving.

Surgery

In cases of major tendon injuries like a complete rupture, the tendon may not completely heal by itself, and surgical repair might become necessary. Depending on the type of injury, the surgeon performs a minimally invasive or open surgery to reunite the torn parts of the tendon using sutures. Sometimes, when the tendon completely detaches from the bone, a tendon graft may be required to reattach the tendon to the bone. After surgery, the patient needs to undergo many months of physical therapy to regain function.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy is extremely effective in treating tendon injuries and is often considered the best treatment for mild to moderate tendon injuries after RICE.

A physical therapist helps develop a customized training program to improve strength and coordination of the muscles around the joint, improving mobility and reducing pain. The exercise program prescribed by a physical therapist includes strengthening and stretching exercises, which are carefully calibrated based on the type and severity of injury.

It is important to understand that self-prescribed exercises after a tendon injury are not a good idea; they can make the injury worse.

Why Do Tendons Take a Long Time To Heal?

Many factors contribute to how long it takes tendons to heal, including:

  • Lower blood supply: Unlike muscles, tendons do not have a rich blood supply. Injured tissue requires more nutrients and more blood to deliver the nutrients. Owing to low blood supply, when tendons are injured, they tend to heal slowly. Conditions like diabetes cause the blood supply to become even more compromised.
  • Tendons weaken with age: With age, tendons become thinner, have a lower blood flow and sustain small damages that make them weaker and more susceptible to injuries.
  • Tendon injuries develop gradually: Tendon injuries are likely a result of gradual wear and tear due to overuse or aging. A tendon is more likely to be damaged by a sudden impact if it is already weak due to repetitive microtrauma. So, tendon injury can result from damage that began long before.

How Long Does a Tendon Take To Heal?

The recovery timeline for tendon injuries can be anywhere from three weeks to a year. Usually, a repaired tendon regains its full strength after about 12 weeks. However, regaining complete range of movement can take up to six months. 

Many factors determine the amount of time required for a tendon to heal, such as:

  • Type of injury
  • Severity of injury
  • Which tendon was injured
  • Activity levels
  • Age and health
  • Comorbidities (such as diabetes)
  • Smoking
  • Commitment to physical therapy

Regenerative Therapy for Tendon Injury

If you are looking for options for treating tendon injury without drugs or surgery, regenerative medicine is a great alternative to consider. Regenerative medical treatments involve leveraging the body’s resources to help restore injured tendons. Unlike medications, regenerative therapies target the root cause, acting on the site of tissue damage and triggering the restorative process to reduce pain and inflammation and improve mobility. With regenerative therapies, patients can sometimes avoid surgery and recover from a tendon injury without any incision, scar or prolonged recovery time.

Struggling With Tendon Injury? Contact QC Kinetix

QC Kinetix’s regenerative therapies help patients manage pain and resume an active lifestyle without surgery or medication. If you have a tendon injury, schedule a free consultation to learn about our therapies and how they can benefit you. During the consultation, we’ll answer all your questions, evaluate your condition, and develop a therapy plan. If we find that surgery is the best course of action for treating your injury, we’ll let you know immediately to avoid any delay in your treatment.

Our therapies have changed the lives of many people suffering from musculoskeletal pain. We know how excruciating tendon injuries can be, and we’re eager to help you recover quickly without surgery. Get in touch with QC Kinetix today!

Related Blogs

Joint & Bone Health Quickstart Program

QC Kinetix Joint & Bone Health supplements help your body to repair and renew injured joint tissues, including cartilage, ligaments, and tendons, while reducing inflammation of the bursae. Unlike steroids or pharmaceuticals, our supplements for joints work with your body to promote healing.

Supplements can boost your overall joint health as part of a general fitness program. However, they are particularly valuable for treating damaged or inflamed and painful joints. The Arthritis Foundation finds that joint health supplements show promise for relieving pain, stiffness, and other symptoms of arthritis.

QC Kinetix

Contact us now to speak with an expert

*Please Complete the Form Below and an Expert Will Contact You. All Fields Must Be Filled Out.

Please allow 30-60 minutes of allotted time to meet with a specialist to determine if you are a candidate for our services. Exams are included and are complimentaryThen add a checkbox below it with the same disclaimer as the home page:By pressing "Schedule a Free consultation", you agree that QC Kinetix may contact you by phone, email and or text message about your inquiry, which may be automated. You may revoke consent at any time by clicking the opt out on emails or texting "STOP" to any texts sent out by QC Kinetix. Msg frequency varies. Msg and data rates may apply.

Don’t Let The Pain Stop You From Doing The Things You Love!

English