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Tendinopathy

Tendinopathy in Sport

Identifying tendinopathy and how we might be able to treat it

About

Tendinopathy is condition of tendons whereby the structure of the tendon begins to breakdown because of a poor healing response in the tendon. It tends to happen as part of an overuse problem in sports and occur in any tendon in the body. It commonly occurs in distance runners (e.g. Achilles tendinopathy), and in swimmers (e.g. rotator cuff tendinopathy).

Need to know

  • Symptoms of tendonitis icon plus

    Symptoms vary depending on which tendon is affected, but it will often cause an ache or pain which is localised to the area of the affected tendon, (e.g. where the achilles attaches into the heel bone). Stiffness and discomfort first thing in the morning, which gradually improves with gentle movement is common, but often the pain can be worse after heavy exercise. Occaisionally the tendon may be thickened and tender to the touch, and sometimes there may be a creaking sensation around the tendon with movement.

  • Screening and diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant will examine you and you’ll be asked questions about how you exercise, and how the pain is affecting you. You will be examined to see how your movement (biomechanics) may be contributing to the problem, and sometimes you may be asked to undergo a gait analysis assessment.  You may also be sent for tests such as an ultrasound scan, or sometimes an MRI scan.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Rehabilitation (such as physiotherapy or osteopathy) is the mainstay of treatment.  Tendons frequently need to be loaded in a certain way to improve the capacity of the tendon and the attached muscle to manage load. This is typically done in a graded fashion with specific exercises.  You will also be guided on how to return to activity. Sometimes a course of shockwave therapy is recommended, and occaisionally in cases where conventional treatment isn’t working, PRP injections, or even surgery may be advised..

Types of tendinopathy

Epicondylitis

This affects the elbow, and is often known as tennis elbow when it affects the outside of the elbow, or golfer's elbow when it occurs on the inside.

Calcific tendinopathy

This condition is caused by a build-up of calcium on the tendons, which usually affects the shoulder.

De Quervain's disease

This type of tendinopathy affects the two tendons that help move the thumb, and can cause pain, swelling or a lack of movement.

Achilles tendinopathy

This is one of the most common types of tendinopathy, and causes pain and stiffness at the back of the ankle and the heel.
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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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