Understanding the healing process of a tendon and how you can help the healing journey along a natural path
Did you know that the most common tendon that is most injured is in fact the Achilles tendon? This tendon often gets injured due to the long-term overuse and repetitive activities we place on this tendon.
An injury to a tendon can have symptoms such as:
- Warmth and or swelling near the injured tendon
The pain can increase with a certain activity. You can feel the symptoms in the precise area that is injured or can radiate out from the joint area.
In this article, we will explain what a tendon is, the stages at which it heals, a few frequently asked questions as well as a few natural tips you can use to help heal a tendon quicker.
The stages in which a tendon heals
Tendon injuries are fairly common, especially in people who play sports. It is estimated that around 30-50% of sporting injuries involve tendon problems. There are three main stages at which a tendon heals.
- Inflammation stage( Lasts about a week)
This is the stage at which the tendon swells and becomes inflamed. Your body sends inflammatory cells to the injured area to help the tendon begin the healing process.
- Proliferation stage (lasts a few weeks)
This is the stage at which your body produces a number of cytokine and growth factors that leads to the recruitment and proliferation of macrophages and resident tendon fibroblasts. In other words, this is the stage whereby your body begins to produce new healthy cells to repair the tendon and make it strong again.
- Remodeling stage (can last a few months)
This is the final stage of tendon healing. You begin to get your strength back in the tendon, the new healthy cells take over the old damaged cells and your body heals the tendon completely.
Can a tendon heal on its own?
Tendons are fibrous bands of connective tissue that plays a role in stabilizing the skeleton as well as allows movement to happen.
Certain tendon injuries can heal on their own such as Tendinitis. Depending on how severe the injury is, you might need to seek medical help because it will not heal to the optimal on its own. If pain is chronic, a doctor might recommend surgery to remove the tendon that is inflamed or damaged.
Common tendon injuries
Strain: A common sports injury is known as a strain. This is when there is damage to a tendon or a muscle to which the tendon connects. Trauma from falling or twisting the tendon at an awkward angle can result in a strain. This can be very painful.
Tendinitis: This is a condition whereby the tendon becomes inflamed and irritated. It can develop from trauma but it mostly develops from an overuse injury. People who suffer from tendinitis might feel pain, see swelling and the tendon is warm to the touch.
Subluxation: This condition happens when a tendon moves out of place. You might hear a popping or a snapping sound. When this happens, you experience pain as well as weakness in the injured area. The pain can come and go. It can happen to anyone however it is more common in people with certain genetic anatomical differences.
Tendon Ruptures: These injuries are due to a mix of immediate trauma as well as chronic trauma. A rupture is often found in the Achilles tendons, biceps, knees, and quadriceps. More often than not, a rapture does require surgery and rehabilitation.
How long does it take for a tendon to heal?
As we said in the section above, a tendon can take up to a few months to heal. If the injury is not severe, it can take up to 12 weeks according to Healthline. You might need physical therapy, occupational therapy as well as a split to help ensure that the tendon heals properly without any long term complications down the line.
Natural ways in which to heal tendons heal
Supplements to help tendons heal
A 2016 study was done to see what supplementation can help with the healing process of tendons. It was found that hydrolyzed type 1 collagen, arginine L-alpha-chetoglutarate, MSM as well as bromelain (which is found in Papaya), may play a beneficial role in tendon healing as well as assisting with pain management.
Foods that help the tendon healing process
Foods such as:
- Citrus fruit
The list above all contains Vitamin C which helps the body produce Collagen. Collagen not only helps with wrinkles but is also the main protein in tendon tissues. By increasing your Vitamin C intake, you can help increase the collagen production in your body which will help repair your tendons quicker and in a natural way. Calcium can also help make your tendons stronger.
To conclude, your tendons are bands that help keep muscle and your skeleton stabilized as well as helps with your daily movement. When a tendon is injured, the tendon needs rest to help heal and depending on how severe the injury was, you might need to make a few lifestyle changes to help protect your tendons in the future.
The late Kobe Bryant tore his Achilles tendon in April 2013 and was only allowed back on the court in December. This just shows how long the recovery can be. It also shows that when you stick to recovery treatments, you can get back to your normal life.
- Natural supplementation as well as diet changes can help with the healing process but does not cure nor replace the medical advice you get from a medical professional. It is just there to aid in your recovery journey
- If the pain does not go away or get better after 3 weeks from the injury, you need to seek out medical help
- Ice and rest can help with the recovery of tendons. It will help reduce swelling as well as manage the pain
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