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  • Emma B

Tendinosis or Tendonitis? What is the difference?

If you are experiencing chronic pain in your tendons, you may be wondering whether you have tendonitis or tendinosis. These conditions share many symptoms, but they are quite different.

If you are experiencing pain in your tendons, it’s important to see a doctor to determine the cause.



What is tendonitis?


Tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendons which occurs from an injury or overuse. It is most commonly seen in the ankle, but can happen in any tendon, especially in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and heels.

When a person is performing exercise, tendonitis occurs in an acute fashion with inflammation to the tendon.


Why might this occur?


A muscular imbalance can cause the muscles to compensate for the weakness in the opposing muscle group. Which causes significant strain on the tendon in the area. For example, you can develop hip flexor tendonitis if the gluteal muscles are weak.

Also, it can occur when the tendon itself is not strong enough to handle the forces going through it. As runner use the same movements repetitively for long periods of time, it can cause an Achilles tendonitis.


What are the symptoms?


Symptoms may vary slightly depending on the person or sport that caused the pain. However, the main symptoms to look out for are:

Pain and tenderness at a tendon point

- Joint pain

- Stiffness

- Swelling

- Weakness

- Pain that gets worse with activity


If your pain doesn’t settle down after a week, and still increased with activity you should seek out professional help.


How can this be treated?


Most importantly is to always increase activity slowly so the tendons and muscles have time to adjust to the new increase in exercise. This will decrease the chances of it occurring drastically.

You should also check your posture. Especially if it has developed in your wrists or elbows. When sitting at a desk the repetitive typing and possible poor sitting posture can lead to the muscles becoming tired and the tendons taking on the load. Try using an ergonomic keyboard or a wrist pad to make sure your hands are level to the keyboard.

However, if the pain is already occurring the quickest way to decrease inflammation and pain is rest and ice it. You can also look into these options:


- Soft tissue massage

- Stretching

- Isometric exercises


What is tendinosis?


The main difference between the two is that tendinosis is when the collagen in the tendon degenerates due to a chronic strain.

If your muscles are not prepared for the amount of repetitive stress put on them, it can cause breakdown and degeneration overtime.


What are the symptoms?


The symptoms or similar to tendonitis, however the main difference is there will be no inflammation due to the pain being caused by the break down of collagen. The main symptoms:


- Pain and tenderness along the tendon

- Weakness

- Pain increases with movement

- Joint pain

It is important to get these symptoms looked at if they continue. If they persist it can lead to more serious conditions like a tendon rupture.


How to prevent or treat this?


Similar to tendonitis, as before it is important to look at your posture and the possible muscular imbalances occurring. Adjusting form when exercising may reduce the amount of pain your are getting when exercising and may have been the cause from the beginning.

This condition takes longer to heal due to the breakdown in the tendon, rather than surface level inflammation.

The use of anti-inflammatories and steroid injections may not be helpful as they can negatively impact the tendon structure. Which is why it is important to seek professional help.

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