Tendons connect muscle to bone and help move joints. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. The injuries can include:
- Tendonitis—An inflammation of the tendon.
- Tendinosis—Microtears in the tendon tissue with no significant inflammation
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Tendinopathy is caused by overuse. This causes tiny tears that build up over time.
This problem is more common in women than in men. It is also more common in older adults. Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Doing any activity too much, such as:
- Physical labor
Physical problems, such as:
- Muscle imbalances
- Poor flexibility
- Being overweight
- Alignment problems in the leg(s)
Problems may be:
- Pain in the tendon or the area around it, often with activity
- Poor motion of related joints
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor may suspect tendinopathy based on symptoms. Images are rarely needed. They may be done if the doctor suspects problems with the bone.
Treatment depends on the tendon and how badly it is damaged. Basic care will include:
- Rest for the joint. This does not mean full rest but avoiding movement that causes strain to the area.
- Cast, splint, or brace to support the tendon
- Medicines to ease pain and swelling
Physical therapy may be needed if the problems keeps returning.
To lower the risk of this problem:
- Slowly increase activities
- Stretch and strengthen the muscles that attach to a tendon
Derry S, Moore RA, et al. Topical NSAIDs for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Syst Rev. 2015;(6): CD007402.
Exercise-induced leg pain. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/basics_exercise-induced-leg-pain.pdf?sfvrsn=8c62186b_2. Published 2016. Accessed July 28, 2020.
Patellar tendinopathy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/patellar-tendinopathy. Updated May 16, 2019. Accessed July 28, 2020.
Patellar tendon tear. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00512. Updated February 2016. Accessed July 28, 2020.
Schwartz A, Watson JN, et al. Patellar Tendinopathy. Sports Health. 2015 Sep;7(5):415-420.
Last reviewed March 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
Last Updated: 3/9/2021