Tendons are tough fibres that connect muscle to bone. For physically active people, tendon disorders are not uncommon. Although anyone can have a tendon injury, even inactive individuals, people who play sports, make the same movements over and over in their work or in their daily activities are at higher risk. If you have pain in a tendon, you might be developing a tendinopathy. Tendinopathy can affect your quality of life. It’s important to address tendon injuries as early as possible to prevent long-term disability.
What is Tendinopathy?
Tendinopathy is an umbrella term encompassing painful conditions occurring in and around tendons. It can come in many forms including tendinitis, which refers to inflammation of the tendon, and tenosynovitis, which refers to the inflammation of the sheath surrounding the tendon. Tendinopathy was previously described as “tendinitis” or “tendinosis”.
The joints commonly affected by tendinopathy are shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle.
Symptoms of tendinopathy include:
- Crunchy sounds
The symptoms may occur on the area where the affected tendon is or may radiate to other areas. Pain may aggravate with activity. During the night, pain and stiffness may be worse.
What Causes Tendinopathy?
Acute trauma can damage the tendons. However, most tendon injuries are caused by repetitive microtrauma, overload, and/or a significant change in the loading of the tendon in a short period of time. Even if it is a mild stress, it can wear out tendon tissues if it’s repeated over and over. Some of these are:
- Work-related activities such as typing, mouse clicking, clenching a steering wheel, or using power tools
- Hobbies such as gardening and painting
- Sports activities such as golf, tennis, baseball, basketball, bowling, running and swimming
Poor body loading and form while doing repetitive movements increase risk of tendinopathy. The risk also increases with age. Certain medical conditions can also increase the risk such as arthritis, gout and thyroid problems. In rare cases, tendinopathy is caused by infection or reaction to medication.
How Physiotherapy Helps with Tendinopathy
The goal of physiotherapy in treating tendinopathy is to improve the capacity of the tendon and key muscles to manage load better. Since tendons and muscles work together, it’s not just the tendon alone physiotherapists look into but also the muscles.
A physiotherapist will assess your injury and then design a treatment plan to fix your pain. Initial treatments may include soft tissue massage, dry needling, joint mobilisation, and taping.
You may be advised to do gentle stretching and specific exercises to improve flexibility and range of motion as well as to prevent stiffness in the injured area. Even if you no longer have pain, it is important to continue with the exercises to strengthen the key muscles.
A supervised program of eccentric exercises can be helpful with tendinopathy. Eccentric exercises promote collagen fiber crosslink formation within the tendon, which facilitates remodelling of the tendon.
A biomechanical or an ergonomic assessment may also be required depending on the cause of your injury to prevent worsening and reoccurrence.
An injured tendon isn’t something that should be ignored. If you think you have tendinopathy, come and see a qualified physiotherapist.
Call us today on 92727359 to get an expert treatment plan!