What is Tendonitis?

(Tendinitis, Tendinopathy, Tendinosis)

Tendonitis or its aliases: tendinitis, tendinopathy and tendinosis are all tendon injuries. Tendon injuries can develop in many different parts of the body. Essentially whereever there is a tendon that attaches a muscle to a bone.

Tendinopathy (tendon pathology) describes two conditions that are likely to occur together: tendon inflammation, known as tendonitis or tendonitis, and tiny tears in the connective tissue in or around the tendon, known as tendinosis.

What is a Tendon Injury?


Tendons are the tough fibres that connect muscle to bone. Most tendon injuries occur near joints, such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. A tendon injury may seem to happen suddenly, but usually it is the result of many tiny tears to the tendon that have happened over time. 

Health professionals may use different terms to describe a tendon injury. You may hear:
  • Tendonitis or Tendonitis: This actually means "inflammation of the tendon," but inflammation is rarely the cause of tendon pain.
  • Tendinosis: This refers to tiny tears in the tissue in and around the tendon caused by overuse.

Most experts now use the term tendinopathy to include both inflammation and microtears. But many health practitioners and certainly the general public still prefer to use the term tendonitis out of habit.

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Common Tendinopathies / Tendonitis / Tendinitis / Tendinosis Injuries

  • Achilles Tendon Rupture
  • Achilles Tendonitis / Tendinitis
  • Adductor Tendinopathy
  • Bicep Tendonitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Cramps
  • de Quervain's Tenosynovitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gluteal Tendinopathy
  • Golfers Elbow
  • Muscle Strain
  • Overuse Injuries
  • Patella Tendonitis (Tendinopathy)
  • Peroneal Tendonitis
  • Pes Anserinus Bursitis & Tendinitis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Rotator Cuff Calcific Tendinitis
  • Rotator Cuff Tear
  • RSI - Repetitive Strain Injury
  • Shoulder Impingement
  • Shoulder Tendonitis
  • Swimmer's Shoulder
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Tibialis Posterior Tendinopathy
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    What Causes a Tendonitis?

    The best results occur with early diagnosis and intervention.

    Most tendon injuries are the result of gradual wear and tear to the tendon from overuse or ageing. Anyone can have a tendon injury, but people who make the same motions over and over in their jobs, sports, or daily activities are more likely to damage a tendon. 

    A tendon injury can happen suddenly or little by little. You are more likely to have a sudden injury if the tendon has been weakened over time. 

    What are the Symptoms of Tendinopathy?

    Tendinopathy usually causes pain, stiffness, and loss of strength in the affected area.
    • The pain may get worse when you use the tendon.
    • You may have more pain and stiffness during the night or when you get up in the morning.
    • The area may be tender, red, warm, or swollen if there is inflammation.
    • You may notice a crunchy sound or feeling when you use the tendon.
    • The symptoms of a tendon injury can be a lot like those caused by bursitis.

    How is a Tendon Injury Diagnosed?

    To diagnose a tendon injury, your doctor or physiotherapist will ask questions about your past health, your symptoms and exercise regime. They'll then do a physical examination to confirm the diagnosis.

    If your symptoms are severe or you do not improve with early treatment, specific diagnostic tests  may be requested, such as an ultrasound scan or MRI.

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    How is Tendinitis / Tendonitis / Tendinopathy Treated?

    In most cases, you can start treating a tendon injury at home. To get the best results, start these steps right away: 
    • Rest the painful area, and avoid any activity that makes the pain worse.
    • Apply ice or cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, as often as 2 times an hour, for the first 72 hours. Keep using ice as long as it helps.
    • Do gentle range-of-motion exercises and stretching to prevent stiffness.
    • Have your biomechanics assessed by a sports physiotherapist or podiatrist.
    • Undertake an Eccentric Strengthen Program. This is vital!
    Persisting tendon injuries are best managed by a sports physiotherapist. Researchers have found that tendon injuries respond differently to muscle injuries and can take months to solve or leave you vulnerable to tendon ruptures, which usually require surgery.

    This has two important issues:
    • Ensure you have an accurate diagnosis.
    • Ensure that your rehabilitation is targeted at either the muscle injury or tendinopathy.
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    How to Return to Sport after Tendonitis

    • As soon as you are cleared by your physiotherapist, you can return to your activity, but take it easy for a while.
    • Don't start at the same level as before your injury. Build back to your previous level slowly, and stop if it hurts.
    • Warm up before you exercise, and do some gentle stretching afterward.
    • After the activity, apply ice to prevent pain and swelling.
    If these steps don't help, you may require a re-visit to your physiotherapist. It may take weeks or months for a tendon injury to heal. Be patient, and stick with your treatment. If you start using the injured tendon too soon, it can lead to more damage. 

    To keep from hurting your tendon again, you may need to make some long-term changes to your activities. 
    • Try changing your activities or how you do them.
    • If exercise caused the problem, check your technique with a coach or sports physiotherapist.
    • Always take time to warm up before and stretch after you exercise.

    Common Tendinitis / Tendonitis Treatments

  • Early Injury Treatment
  • Avoid the HARM Factors
  • Acupuncture and Dry Needling
  • Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
  • Scapular Stabilisation Exercises
  • Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
  • Active Foot Posture Correction Exercises
  • Gait Analysis
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Eccentric Strengthening
  • Balance Enhancement Exercises
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Agility & Sport-Specific Exercises
  • Medications?
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Brace or Support
  • Dry Needling
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Heat Packs
  • Joint Mobilisation Techniques
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Neurodynamics
  • Prehabilitation
  • Running Analysis
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis

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    FAQs about Tendonitis / Tendinitis / Tendinopathy

  • Common Physiotherapy Treatment Techniques
  • What is Pain?
  • Physiotherapy & Exercise
  • Can Kinesiology Taping Reduce Your Swelling and Bruising?
  • Heat Packs. Why does heat feel so good?
  • Rotator Cuff: What is it?
  • Sports Injury? What to do? When?
  • What are Growing Pains?
  • What are the Benefits of a Standing Desk?
  • What are the Common Massage Therapy Techniques?
  • What are the Early Warning Signs of an Injury?
  • What is a Tendinopathy?
  • What is a TENS Machine?
  • What is Chronic Pain?
  • What is Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy?
  • What is Nerve Pain?
  • What is Sports Physiotherapy?
  • What is the Correct Way to Sit?
  • What to expect when you visit PhysioWorks?
  • What's the Benefit of Stretching Exercises?
  • When is the Best Time for a Pre-Event Massage?
  • Why Kinesiology Tape Helps Reduce Swelling and Bruising Quicker

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    Helpful Products for Tendinitis / Tendonitis

    Tendonitis - General

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    Last updated 24-Mar-2015 10:33 PM

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