Tendons connect muscle to bone and help move joints. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. The injuries can include:
- Tendonitis—An inflammation of the tendon.
- Tendinosis—Tiny tears in the tendon tissue with no significant inflammation
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Tendinopathy is caused by overuse. This causes tiny tears that build up over time.
This problem is more common in women than in men. It is also more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Doing any activity too much, such as:
- Physical labor
- Physical problems, such as:
- Muscle imbalances
- Poor flexibility
- Being overweight
- Alignment problems in the leg(s)
Problems may be:
- Pain in the tendon or the area around it, often with activity
- Poor motion of related joints
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect tendinopathy based on symptoms. Pictures rarely need to be taken. They may be done if the doctor thinks that there are problems with the bone.
Treatment depends on the tendon and how badly it is damaged. Basic care will include:
- Rest for the joint. This does not mean full rest but avoiding movement that causes strain to the area.
- A cast, splint, or brace to support the tendon
- Medicines to ease pain and swelling
Physical therapy may be needed if the problems return.
To lower the risk of this problem:
- Slowly increase activities
- Stretch and strengthen the muscles that attach to a tendon
- Agergaard A-S, Svensson RB, et al. Clinical Outcomes, Structure, and Function Improve With Both Heavy and Moderate Loads in the Treatment of Patellar Tendinopathy: A Randomized Clinical Trial. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2021;49(4):982-993. doi:10.1177/0363546520988741.
- Exercise-induced leg pain. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/basics_exercise-induced-leg-pain.pdf?sfvrsn=8c62186b_2.
- Patellar tendinopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/patellar-tendinopathy.
- Patellar tendon tear. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/patellar-tendon-tear.
- Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
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