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What are Tendinopathies?

Tendons are tough cord-like tissues made up of collagen protein that connect your muscles to your bones. Tendinopathy is a breakdown of collagen in the tendon resulting in pain along with reduced range of motion and flexibility. Tendinopathy can occur in any of your tendons, but it is most common around your elbows, shoulders, wrists, heels, and knees. Some of the commonly affected tendons are:

  • Patellar tendon
  • Achilles tendon
  • Rotator cuff tendons
  • Hamstring tendons

What are the Causes of Tendinopathies?

Common causes of tendinopathies include:

  • Sudden stress on the tendons
  • Overuse of the tendons
  • Lack of muscle tone
  • Aging
  • Repetitive movements

What are the Risk Factors of Tendinopathies?

Some of the factors that could enhance the risk of developing tendinopathies include:

  • Muscle weakness or lack of flexibility
  • Use of poor technique and incorrect equipment
  • Being overweight
  • Being diabetic
  • Unaccustomed activity

What are the Symptoms of Tendinopathies?

Some of the symptoms associated with tendinopathies are:

  • Tenderness or pain near or at a joint, particularly around a wrist, elbow, shoulder or ankle
  • Thickening or swelling of the tendon near the joint
  • Stiffness which restricts the joint movement
  • Crepitus or a crunchy sound feeling on using the tendon
  • Loss of strength

How are Tendinopathies Diagnosed?

To diagnose tendinopathy, your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history, perform a physical examination, and order certain diagnostic tests.

Physical examination will typically include evaluation of range of motion along with resisted movements.

Diagnostic tests such as x-ray may be suggested if symptoms are severe and do not improve with treatment and ultrasound or an MRI may be suggested to help identify tendon tears, thickening, swelling, as well as ligament, cartilage and muscle injury.

What are the Treatment Options for Tendinopathies?

Some of the common known treatment options for tendinopathies include:

  • Rest and elevation of the affected tendon
  • Application of heat and ice
  • Use of a compression bandage on the affected area to reduce swelling
  • Use of medications such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Range of motion exercises to improve mobility and strengthen muscles
  • Assistive devices such as slings, braces, splints, or cane
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Physiotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Abstaining from tobacco as smoking delays tissue and wound healing

How can Tendinopathies be Prevented?

Some of the steps you can follow to lower your chances of developing tendinopathies include:

  • Stretches and warm-ups before exercise
  • Keeping physically fit through regular exercise and improving muscle tone
  • Avoiding overuse and repetitive motions
  • Sitting in a proper posture while working at a desk
  • Moving around periodically without remaining in the same position for long
  • Using proper equipment during sports activities and at work