Management of chronic tendon injuries.
Chronic tendon injuries present unique management challenges. The assumption that these injuries result from ongoing inflammation has caused physicians to rely on treatments demonstrated to be ineffective in the long term. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be limited in the treatment of these injuries. Corticosteroid injections should be considered for temporizing pain relief only for rotator cuff tendinopathy. For chronic Achilles tendinopathy (symptoms lasting longer than six weeks), an intense eccentric strengthening program of the gastrocnemius/ soleus complex improved pain and function between 60 and 90 percent in randomized trials. Evidence also supports eccentric exercise as a first-line option for chronic patellar tendon injuries. Other modalities such as prolotherapy, topical nitroglycerin, iontophoresis, phonophoresis, therapeutic ultrasound, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, and low-level laser therapy have less evidence of effectiveness but are reasonable second-line alternatives to surgery for patients who have persistent pain despite appropriate rehabilitative exercise.