Overuse tendon injuries can present as an acute inflammatory response (Tendinitis) or a chronic degeneration condition (tendinopathy). These injuries result when an individual’s volume of activity (type, duration, frequency, and intensity) exceeds the strength and integrity of the tendon. At MEND, we commonly see these injuries in the tendons of the rotator cuff, knee, ankle or elbow. Recent studies summarized in our previous blog posts have highlighted the importance of a Physical Therapy exercise program. Optimal, progressive loading of these injuries is critical to the healing process (remodeling) resulting in decreased pain and improved function. Despite overwhelming evidence supporting exercise interventions patients may still be provided with a surgical treatment.
A recent study from the British Medical Journal reviewed the available medical evidence to determine the effectiveness of Physical Therapy compared to surgery or no treatment in patients with tendinopathy (Challoumas et al. 2019). Authors included 12 studies of over 1000 patients to determine the impact of these treatments on a patient’s pain, function, range of motion, strength and quality of life. Authors reported Physical Therapy was as effective as surgery in both the mid and long term for improving pain, function, and quality of life. Authors report surgery should be reserved for patients who do not improve with 12 months of a loading program.