Chris Varacallo

Penn Highlands Healthcare Offers Cutting-Edge Tendonitis Relief in Clarion

We all know someone who’s suffered from jumper’s knee, tennis elbow, plantar fasciitis or hip bursitis as well as a throbbing shoulder or an aching Achilles tendon? They’re all forms of a condition known as tendinitis, which occurs when a tendon becomes irritated, inflamed, or suffers microscopic tears. The toughest part about tendinitis is that it’s often caused by the activities we love or just the normal wear and tear of everyday life.

If you can relate, there’s good news. You can now get relief right in the Clarion area. Christopher Varacallo, DO, CAQSM, FAAFP, who practices interventional orthopedics and sports medicine at the Clarion Community Medical Building on Holiday Inn Road in Clarion, uses a new cutting-edge product called the TenJet to remove degenerative or diseased tissue from a tendon. Dr. Varacallo is the only physician in the region using the TenJet technology.

“TenJet is having a very positive impact on the lives of my patients,” said Dr. Varacallo. “Traditionally, most tendinitis could only be treated with surgery. Now, this has emerged as a microinvasive—meaning even less than minimally invasive — outpatient solution to target the source of chronic tendon pain with many of the same benefits as surgery.”

A tendon is the thick and flexible but inelastic cord that attaches muscle to bone. Tendinitis can occur from a single injury, but in many cases, it happens when a patient repeats the same motion over and over. (In sports medicine, “overuse injuries” account for 30 to 50% of all injuries.) It makes the most common movements like walking, cooking or swinging a golf club uncomfortable.

The TenJet technology uses a pressurized, high-velocity stream of saline that shoots from a needle which passes through the skin to flush out and remove the degenerative tissue. With ultrasound imaging, Dr. Varacallo navigates the needle to access the site of tendinitis while preserving the healthy tendon. Patients can typically undergo a local anesthetic, and many TenJet procedures are complete in under 30 minutes. The device delivers fast results and can be closed with medical tape or a bandage (no stitches). Typically, patients can return to their normal activities in just one day.

In addition, the TenJet process offers another significant advantage over some other less invasive solutions – it has a lasting effect. In 2019, Dr. Varacallo participated in a nationally recognized research study that was presented at the National Sports Medicine Conference in Houston, which hosts orthopedic practitioners from all around the world. The results of the study indicated that six months after their procedure, more than 80% of patients with elbow pain experienced almost complete resolution to their former condition.

“This technology is for just about anyone,” said Dr. Varacallo. “While other more invasive procedures might leave some patients with scarring or some degree of pain, this newer technology allows patients with a wide range of circumstances to fully rebound — sometimes literally.”

Dr. Varacallo’s youngest patient for this procedure was an 18-year-old basketball player who had been considering surgery for jumper’s knee. The athlete returned to the court within weeks after undergoing the procedure. His eldest patient was in their 90s and appreciated the gentle recovery.

One patient in her early 60s, shared about her tenotomy experience. After suffering from tendinitis in her hips for almost five years, she met with Dr. Varacallo to find a more permanent solution than the cortisone shots she’d received every three months for the past two years.

“I told Dr. Varacallo I’d do anything that could possibly end my pain for good,” she said. “The whole procedure only took 10 or 15 minutes for each hip. Afterward, I was able to drive myself home!”

She went on to describe her rapid recovery. “The incision was honestly a pinpoint. Dr. Varacallo covered it with a bandage, and I went home to rest for the day. I was a little sore, but I healed within just a couple days. It was a very quick recovery.”

As part of the Penn Highlands Orthopedics and Sports Medicine team, Dr. Varacallo is the supervising physician for Curwensville Area and works in collaboration with athletic trainers from the region’s school districts (DuBois, Brockway, Brookville, Clearfield, and St. Marys, including Elk County Catholic), along with the DuBois Dream, Penn State DuBois and Clarion University.

In addition to TenJet tendinitis treatment, Dr. Varacallo specializes in orthopedic care and surgery, concussion treatment, sports medicine and non-surgical orthopedic care. He sees patients in the Penn Highlands Healthcare Orthopedics and Sports Medicine Office in the Clarion Community Medical Building at 265 Holiday Inn Drive in Clarion. For more information, visit