Recognizing and Treating Tendinosis – Lessons Learned

This past winter I dealt with an overuse injury that resulted in tennis elbow. At first I wasn’t sure why my elbow was bothering me because there was nothing in particular that I recalled doing to cause me pain. Then after a few weeks of taking high doses of ibuprofen to no avail, I realized what had happened and I learned an invaluable lesson just in the nick of time.

I had spent hours on end vacuuming up leaves with an old leaf vacuum mulcher that required me to hold the nozzle rigidly in place as I vacuumed. Without realizing it, I had overexerted my forearm muscle and created micro tears in the tendon, and that is how I had woken up one day with a painful elbow injury.

I then had another ah-ha. I remembered reading an article about tennis elbow and realized I was doing all the wrong things. I didn’t have tendinitis any longer – if I had ever had it. I had tendinosis, and the worst thing for that is ibuprofen. I was aggravating my situation and making it impossible for the tendon to heal. I share all this, so you can learn, as I did, what to do for tendinosis.

I couldn’t find the article so I started searching the Internet. My memory was right. Tendinosis frequently occurs from overusing a muscle, and it is not the result of inflammation, as tendinitis is. Tendinosis is a chronic degeneration of the tendon due to the failure of proper healing and the loss of collagen. Everything I read said there was no easy or effective treatment. The type of collagen in the tendon is totally different from what is in skin and cartilage, so a collagen supplement won’t help. Instead I learned most people never fully heal. E-gads!

Fortunately, I stumbled across one site that said one way to treat tendinosis was to pump fresh blood into the tendon in order to bring fresh nutrients and reactivate the generation of collagen. The suggested procedure was costly and required a unique series of injections. Yet I knew of an easy way to pump fresh blood into the area. Apply ice for 2 minutes, heat for 2 minutes, repeat again and end with ice. You don’t want to end with heat and leave lots of blood in the joint area. I did this 5 times a day for almost 2 weeks before my pain started to diminish. Gradually I went from 5 to 3 to 1 times a day. My pain is nearly gone, and I have been able to add forearm physical therapy exercises and regain full use of my arm.

This was a close call, and I consider myself very lucky to read and know enough to help myself. I hope this proves to be helpful to you or someone you know dealing with tendinosis.

  • Paul Pan

    Thank you so much! I’ve been struggling with tendinosis alternating heat and ice once or twice a day, but I’m now going to take up your regimen!

  • Rachel

    Thanks from me too… I have been taking ibuprofen daily for months and been suffering with ‘chronic tendinitis’ for almost 6 months…. I now realise its tendinosis so this explains why I’m having no improvement. .. I’ll give this a try alongside my laborious regime of daily physio. Fingers crossed 🙂


Alice Greene
Healthy Lifestyle Success Coach

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