Tendons connect muscle to bone and help move joints. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. These injuries tend to occur in tendons near joints such as knee, shoulder, and ankle. The injuries can include: Tendonitis—An inflammation of the tendon. Although this term is used often, most cases of tendinopathy are not associated with significant inflammation.Tendinosis—Microtears in the tendon tissue with no significant inflammation.
The following tendons are often involved: Achilles—back of heel
Patellar tendon, which is
attached to the kneecapRotator cuff in the shoulderBiceps in the shoulderWrist extensors near the elbow, on the outsideWrist flexors near the elbow, on the insideQuadriceps tendonsAnkle tendons
Tendinopathy and the associated pain may take months to resolve. You may need medication for pain relief.
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Tendinopathy is caused by overuse of a muscle-tendon unit. The strain on the tendon causes very tiny tears that accumulate over time. There can also be inflammation.
These tears cause pain and can eventually change the structure of the tendon.
Tendinopathy is more common in women than in men. Factors that may increase your chance of getting tendinopathy include: Overuse can be the result of doing any activity too muchStrenuous or repetitive activities SportsPhysical laborHouseworkPhysical problems Muscle imbalanceDecreased flexibilityOverweightAdvancing ageAlignment abnormalities of the leg
Symptoms may include: Pain in the tenon or surrounding area, particularly with activityDecreased motion of related jointsLocal swellingWeakness
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may need some images of the tendon and bone.
Imaging tests may include: X-rayMRI scan
Treatment depends on: Severity of symptomsThe tendon involvedLength of time symptoms have lasted
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Options may include: Rest for the affected tendonIce after activityAvoiding the activity that is responsibleCast or splint for immobilization of the affected areaCounterforce brace over the painful tendonReduce shock vibration on the joint with shoe insertsShoe orthotics for foot alignment problems
Your doctor or physical therapist may recommend exercises or a rehabilitation program.
To manage pain or swelling, your doctor may recommend: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs)Prescription pain relieversTopical pain relievers, such as creams or patches that are applied directly to the skinA medication called cortisone. It can be injected into the sheath around the tendon.
To prevent tendinopathy: Gradually work yourself into shape for a new activity.Gradually increase the length of time and intensity of activities.If you have a tendon that has been a problem, gradually stretch out that muscle/tendon unit.Strengthen the muscle to which the tendon is attached.If you have pain, do not ignore it. Early treatment can prevent the problem from becoming serious.Learn to back off from activities if you are tired or not used to the activity.Warm-up the affected area before activity.
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http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/exercis-inducedlegpain.pdf. Accessed March 18, 2013.
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Patellar tendinopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated November 3, 2012. Accessed March 18, 2013.
Patellar tendon tear. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at:
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00512. Updated August 2009. Accessed March 18, 2013.
10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Massey T, Derry S, et al. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev.
Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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