In the past, if you went to your doctor complaining of pain in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, etc., it would most likely be diagnosed as “tendinitis” and treated with anti-inflammatories, rest, and maybe a brace of some sort. More recently, doctors are finding that most cases of tendinitis are actually misdiagnosed. As you may remember from high school anatomy, tendons are the fibrous bands that attach your muscles to your bones. They can be injured in one of two ways. Either they can be torn during a traumatic event, such as a skiing accident, or they can accumulate microscopic tears due to repetitive motions, such as typing all day. The traumatic events tend to create a true tendinitis, meaning that the tendon is inflamed (-itis means inflammation). However, repetitive strain injuries are much more common, and these injuries usually do not produce much inflammation at all. Hence, they should be more accurately categorized as “tendinosis” (-osis means degeneration). In fact, one could say there is a lack of inflammation in cases of tendinosis. While you may think of inflammation as a bad thing that needs to be squelched with anti-inflammatories, some amount of inflammation is required for healing to occur. In tendinosis, the injuries occur so slowly that the body doesn’t recognize them as injuries and therefore doesn’t send the required increased blood flow and inflammatory cells to clean up the mess. To steal a phrase from Jim Thornton’s recent article, “Heal the Burn”, tendinotic tissues tend to “languish in a state of near neglect”. The best way to get these injuries to heal is to acually introduce a bit of inflammation. This is why the Graston Technique works so well. By massaging tendinotic tissues with the patented Graston instruments, degenerated tissue is broken down, blood flow is increased, and inflammation is temporarily increased. In the days following the treatment, the degenerated tissue is reabsorbed by the body. With several treatments, the tendon is gradually returned to its normal, healthy state.