Tendinopathies are a very common injury, which can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to complete their activities of daily living, sleep quality, and decrease sport performance. Tendons are found throughout the body and connect muscle and bone. The role of tendons is to transmit forces from the muscle to allow our bones to move. Tendinopathy is the most common injury related to tendons, affecting a significant number of athletes (professional and recreational) as well as workers in jobs that involve repetitive tasks.
Historically, tendonitis was the term used to describe a painful tendon with inflammation. However, because inflammation is not necessarily involved in the condition, tendinopathy is now more commonly used. Tendinopathy is usually defined as an overuse injury associated with a sudden increase in load or returning to an activity following a period of rest.
Generally, the most common risk factors for tendinopathies are:
- Incidence increases with age.
- More common in males than females
While any tendon in the body is susceptible to tendinopathy, common locations of tendon injuries include:
- Rotator Cuff Related Shoulder Pain
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Patellar (knee)
- Tennis elbow
- Golfer’s elbow
- Gluteal (hip)
Upper body tendinopathies are mostly associated with repetitive motions often while working, whilst lower body tendinopathies are generally connected to sports and training.
Tendinopathy is identified through pain associated with activity, the tendon being sore to touch, and a decrease in strength and potential range of motion. Patients who present to the clinic will often describe a subtle increase in pain over a period rather than a sudden occurrence following one movement or activity.
Tendon’s work best when they are “warmed up”, so a patient is likely to report that their pain is worse and that they feel stiff first thing in the morning. Additionally, if they are continuing to participate in sports and work, their symptoms will be worse at the start of the activity and then ease overtime before the pain comes back after cooling down.
Stay tuned for part 2 where we look more specifically at upper limb tendinopathies.
Ackermann, P., 2015. Tendinopathy I: Understanding Epidemiology, Pathology, Healing, and Treatment.
Riley, G., 2003. The pathogenesis of tendinopathy. A molecular perspective. Rheumatology, 43(2), pp.131-142.
Xu, Y. and Murrell, G., 2008. The Basic Science of Tendinopathy. Clinical Orthopaedics & Related Research, 466(7), pp.1528-1538.