What is Chronic Tendon Pain?
Chronic tendon pain, often called tendonitis but more accurately referred to as tendinopathy, or tendinosis, is a condition that is common in several parts of the body. It frequently affects the foot and ankle (plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinosis), the knee (jumpers' knee), the hip, the elbow (golfers' elbow, tennis elbow), and the shoulder. It is the result of injuries to the tendon that occur over time and lead to the development of scar tissue, which does not function like healthy tendon. The loss of normal tendon elasticity due to this damage leads to pain that typically can be localized to a focal spot with your fingertip.
How is it Treated?
Tendon pain often resolves over time with rest and physical therapy. If the pain lasts for three months or more, the prolonged inflammation from repetitive tendon injury leads to the development of scar tissue and chronic pain. Steroid injections may provide temporary relief, but can lead to tendon degeneration with repeated use over time. Definitive treatment requires debridement, or removal of the damaged tissue, to allow regeneration of normal healthy tendon fibers in its place. Until recently, this has required open surgery with an incision and extensive recovery period.
Tenex Health TX is an image guided minimally invasive alternative to surgery. The TX microtip device uses ultrasonic energy to loosen the damaged tissue while removing it with constant gentle irrigation. Using local anesthetic (avoiding the risks of sedation and anesthesia), and ultrasound imaging for guidance, the physician inserts the Tenex device into the damaged tendon through a quarter-inch incision. The procedure takes less than 5 minutes. There are no stitches. The patient goes home and, after 1-2 days of rest, can typically resume daily activities with instructions not to stress the treated tendon. This recovery period varies depending on the treated tendon, but generally takes 6-8 weeks with gentle physical therapy after the first 3 weeks.
What Can I Expect?
Referral to CCP Interventional Care for chronic tendon pain begins with a dedicated ultrasound examination of the affected tendon followed by a consultation with one of our specialists at the Interventional Radiology clinic in Latham. Chronically damaged tendon tissue has a characteristic ultrasound appearance. Ultrasound can also diagnose other problems such as tendon tears and bursitis. If based on the radiology findings and the physician's evaluation you are a candidate for the procedure, it can be scheduled generally within the next few weeks. The procedure is performed in the Interventional Radiology suite at Albany Medical Center.
What are the risks?
The Tenex TX device was approved by the FDA in 2012 and thousands of patients have been treated. Complications are rare (only a few reports) and mild (most commonly cellulitis).
Does it Work?
Compiling the available data which consists of multiple retrospective studies by independent investigators covering several thousand patients demonstrates that at least 85% of treated patients experience significant pain relief after the procedure. Our own experience thus far since we started performing this procedure in 2014 mirrors these results.