When it comes to injuries, there are few more common than tendonitis. This time of year, after a summer of outdoor activities, joint pain can be hard to avoid. While rest can heal minor problems, people with more severe issues might need another solution.
Dr. Troy Long of Minneapolis Vascular Physicians, which has offices in Plymouth and New Brighton, saw a need for a new form of treatment for tendonitis and now offers a procedure called Tenex Health TX.
Tendonitis, tiny tears in tendons that turn into inflamed tissue, is common in the elbow (often called tennis elbow or golf elbow), the Achilles tendon, and the patellar tendon. Repetitive motion, whether from sports or daily movements, causes tendonitis, and it can be near impossible to avoid for active bodies. Traditional treatment calls for the usual things: rest, over-the-counter medication, physical therapy, steroid injections, and so on. These will often ease pain, but if they fail, patients turn to surgery.
Until the advent of Tenex Health TX, people with tendonitis faced the prospect of traditional surgery. The doctor would open the patient up and remove the damaged portion of the tendon.
With Tenex Health TX, the procedure is minimally invasive. Using ultrasound, doctors like Long are able to identify the damaged portion of the tendon and remove it while only making a small incision in the skin without disrupting the healthy portion of the tendons.
Amber* had the procedure done last November. She worked two jobs, including in the ICU at North Memorial Hospital, which forced her to spend most of her day on her feet. She developed plantar fasciitis in both her heels.
“Every time I stood up, even getting out of bed in the morning, [the pain] was horrific,” Amber says. She went to Dr. Long to have the procedure, and was back on her feet at North Memorial working the next day. The pain hadn’t disappeared, but she was able to walk around, and after a few weeks the pain was completely gone. “The procedure is just so simple and quick,” Amber says.
While the procedure is easier on patients, Long still believes in it as a last resort. "It is a minimally invasive procedure, but it is still a surgery,” Long says. “I always have patients try other treatments before recommending this procedure."
The recovery time is cut down compared to traditional surgery, but it’s still important to rest and perform rehab. The procedure takes about 10 minutes, but the recovery time can be four to six weeks, depending on the tendon affected.
Long estimates he has performed about 100 of the procedures, most at the Plymouth clinic, so the data is still coming in, but so far the procedure has proven successful in solving patients tendon issues and at a fraction of the cost of more invasive surgeries, which can cost thousands of dollars. (Long estimates a Tenex Health TX procedure will cost patients around $1,500, which includes the consult with him plus the procedure.)
* Amber’s last name is omitted to preserve patient privacy.
Like any procedure, Tenex Health TX might not be for everyone. Consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any chronic tendon or joint pain.