No difficulty is encountered in making a practical diagnosis in tendinitis; that is, one may fail to readily recognize the extent of the involvement as it affects the superficial flexor tendon, for instance, but this has no practical bearing on the prognosis and treatment, when existing inflammation of the deep flexor is recognized.
The course of each tendon is readily outlined by palpation; all parts are easily manipulated; and with experience one may readily recognize the extent and degree of the inflammation.
Treatment.—In some cases of acute tendinitis, pain is intense and the application of cold packs during this stage is very beneficial in that pain is controlled and inflammation subsides. The extremity may be bandaged with a liberal quantity of absorbent cotton or with woolen material. Ice water is then poured around the bandaged member every fifteen minutes and this should be continued for about forty-eight hours. In some cases this treatment is not necessary for more than twelve hours; at the end of this length of time, pain has subsided and the acute stage of inflammation has passed or its intensity has been diminished.
Following the application of cold packs, the use of a poultice such as some of the sterile, medicated muds, is of marked benefit. The author has made use of tincture of iodin and glycerin in the proportion of one part of iodin to seven parts glycerin, with very satisfactory results. This combination is hygroscopic, anodyne and antiseptic and is easily applied. A liberal quantity is directly applied all around the affected tendons and the leg covered with a heavy layer of cotton, and this is snugly held in position with bandages. The application may be used once or twice daily, or if it is thought necessary, an attendant may pour a quantity of the iodized-glycerin around the leg and under the bandage once daily without removing the cotton and bandage. Needless to say, absolute rest is imperative.
When all evidence of acute inflammation has subsided vesication is indicated. At this stage walking exercise is beneficial and the subject may be allowed the freedom of a paddock.
Some practitioners are partial to the use of the actual cautery in these cases, but it is doubtful if it is necessary to produce such a great degree of counter-irritation in cases where the subject is suffering the first attack of tendinitis.
As has been indicated, ample time should be allowed for recovery and depending upon conditions, it takes from three weeks to six months for complete recovery to become established.
Chronic Tendinitis and Contraction of the Flexor Tendons.
Etiology and Occurrence.—Acute inflammation of the flexor tendons may result in chronic tendinitis. Recurrent attacks in cases where insufficient time is allowed for complete recovery to result, is followed by chronic inflammation and hypertrophy of the tendons. Again, in subjects where conformation is faulty, no amount of care will be sufficient to prevent a recurrence of the inflammation and the condition must become chronic.