Frustration, anger, listlessness, impatience, sadness, and pain. I've felt them all over the last eight months. Tendonosis - what the hell? I was strong, healthy, active, on the bike and/or running every day, climbing, skiing, backpacking. Now I drag my butt into the gym every day doing exercises as prescribed by my PT with the hope of regaining the ability to do the things I love some supposed day in the distant future. Why is this worth its own thread?
Well, I don't really know. I do know that I've yet to find any first-person testimonials about completely overcoming this condition, so I hope to keep this going while I continue the road to recovery for those after me to reference and maybe even gain some hope or inspiration from because all I see is "I'm not my old self" or "I gave up running" or "This is what has NOT worked" and so on. I'm determined to recover stronger that I was before and am hopeful that my best days are still ahead of me.
My GP and the ortho I saw both failed me. They diagnosed tendonitis, an inflamitory condition that is typically resolved in a matter of a few weeks with ice, rest and NSAIDS. No mention of stretching or strengthening the tendon specifically. I followed their advice for 4 months with no progress before going on my own to a PT. Turns out that nearly every case of "tendonitis" has nothing to do with inflamation (maybe it did at first), but with degradation of the tendon tissue, which cannot be treated with all the Advil in the world.
Its hard to find information out there on effectively and completely treating Patellar Tendonosis. My approach here will be to document what I'm doing, and how I've responded. Please contribute your experiences with tendonosis, including how you dealt with pain, strengthening, depression, and how successful your recover was.
Symptoms showed up 8 months ago, and as recently as 8 weeks ago, I could not so much as walk on level ground without pain. I began with 4 simple stretches:
1) Quad stretch
2) Hamstring stretch
3) Hip flexors
30 seconds each leg, stretching very deep once warmed up, twice through, four times daily. After only a week, I could walk on level ground normally with greatly reduced pain. After 2 weeks, I hit the gym for 4 simple exercises:
1) Hip abductors - laying on my side with bottom leg bent, top leg extended, doing leg lifts out to the side and back. 20x each leg, 2-3 sets.
2) Hamstring curls - started with 60lb. now up to 90. Instructed to do 3 sets of 8 reps each, maximum weight I can tolerate while finishing the set.
3) Leg press (most important) - started with 3 sets, 8 reps each with only 160lb, now up to 300. Again, HEAVY weight being the key. Now am mixing in 1 leg down, both legs up with 200lb. The point being to strain the tendon itself, "shocking" it into generating new collagen cells. Again 3x8.
4) Calf raises - 3x8 between sets of leg press.
I certainly feel stronger now, and have gone on 2 bike rides (both very easy under 25 miles). It feels good to be on the bike a little, and that really helps with the mental mess I've slipped into after months of negative progress. The little things that I used to take for granted...
What's next? I'm going to try chiropractic, as I know there are a host of biomechanical issues that could compound the problem. I've heard even that chiro manipulation of the spine (I believe the L3 specifically) can help with the pain, and can get you back to activity sooner. I'll be trying decline squats (45 deg. decline board) with weight as I get stronger. Again, the point is to strain the patellar tendon here, not just build muscle. My PT said after another few weeks, he wants to try adding some agility drills and plyometrics for 3-4 weeks, then getting me on a program to slowly build back up to running - I mean SLOWLY. I love to run more than anything and I will run again. When I can run, I know I can ski, hike, and do the things I love again, so I'm using that goal as a yardstick for my progress.
That is all for now. More will follow when I see myself being to some "next phase" of my recovery. Again, please share your experience with this condition, as it would be nice to know that others have beat it back and regained their top form.
Thanks for reading.