What is a Tendinopathy?

Common Tendinopathy

What is Tendinopathy?

Tendinopathy, commonly known as tendon injury, affects tendons in various body parts. It’s often referred to as tendonitis, tendinitis, tenosynovitis, or tendinosis. These terms describe different tendon pathologies, but collectively, they’re known as tendinopathies.

Common Tendinopathy

Tendon Injury Locations

Tendon injuries typically occur in three areas:

  1. Tendon Insertion: Where the tendon attaches to the bone.
  2. Mid-Tendon: Also known as non-insertional tendinopathy.
  3. Musculotendinous Junction: Where the tendon attaches to the muscle.

Tendon Injuries

Tendons, the tough fibres connecting muscle to bone, are prone to injuries near joints such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. These injuries often stem from repetitive overloading, rather than a single event.

Tendinitis Explained

Tendinitis, or tendonitis, indicates tendon inflammation. This mild inflammation is a normal response to activity but can become problematic when the injury rate surpasses the healing capacity.

Phases of Tendinopathy

Tendinopathy progresses through four phases:

  1. Reactive Tendinopathy: Normal tissue adaptation with an excellent prognosis.
  2. Tendon Dysrepair: Injury rate exceeds repair rate, with a good prognosis if managed correctly.
  3. Degenerative Tendinopathy: Involves cell death, leading to a poor prognosis.
  4. Tendon Tear or Rupture: This catastrophic phase often requires surgery.

Identifying Your Tendinopathy Phase

Professional assessment is crucial for determining the tendinopathy phase, which guides effective treatment.

Systemic Risk Factors

Recent research indicates systemic factors like diabetes, post-menopausal status, and high body fat can predispose individuals to tendinopathy.

Symptoms of Tendinopathy

Tendinopathy symptoms include pain, stiffness, and strength loss in the affected area. Inflammation can cause redness, warmth, and swelling.

Diagnosing a Tendon Injury

Diagnosis involves a thorough examination, medical history review, and possibly imaging tests like ultrasound or MRI.

Tendinopathy Treatment

Treatment varies depending on the tendinopathy phase, with some cases requiring months of therapy. Initial home treatment includes rest, ice application, and gentle exercises.

Returning to Sport

Return to sport should be gradual and under the guidance of a physiotherapist to prevent further injury.

Preventing Tendinopathy

Prevention involves adjusting activities and techniques, regular exercises, and monitoring exercise loads.

Tendinopathy Prognosis

While acute tendinopathies can resolve quickly, persistent cases may take months and require a comprehensive rehabilitation plan.

Seeking Professional Advice

Consult a physiotherapist with a special interest in tendinopathies for personalised advice and treatment.

Specific Tendinopathies

Foot & Ankle


Hip & Groin



Wrist & Hand


Tendinopathy is a complex condition requiring careful diagnosis, treatment, and management. Understanding its phases, symptoms, and treatment options is vital for effective recovery.

What to Do?

If you suspect tendinopathy, consult a physiotherapist for a thorough assessment and tailored treatment plan. Remember, early intervention can significantly improve your prognosis and hasten recovery..

Tendinopathy FAQs

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