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Tendons connect muscle to bone and help move joints. Tendinopathy is an injury to the tendon. These injuries tend to occur in tendons near joints such as knee, shoulder, and ankle. The injuries can include:
- Tendinitis—an inflammation of the tendon. Although this term is used often, most cases of tendinopathy are not associated with significant inflammation.
- Tendinosis—microtears (tiny breaks) in the tendon tissue with no significant inflammation.
The following tendons are often involved:
- Achilles —back of heel
- Rotator cuff in the shoulder
- Biceps in the shoulder
- Wrist extensors near the elbow, on the outside
- Wrist flexors near the elbow, on the inside
- Patellar tendon, which is attached to the kneecap
Tendinopathy and the associated pain may take months to resolve. You may need medication for pain relief.
Tendinopathy is caused by overuse of a muscle-tendon unit. The strain on the tendon causes very tiny tears that accumulate over time. These tears cause pain and can eventually change the structure of the tendon.
Overuse can be the result of doing any activity too much, such as:
- Sport activities
- Physical labor, especially those with repetitive motions
Tendinopathy is more common in women than in men. Factors that may increase your chance of getting tendinopathy include:
- Muscle imbalance
- Decreased flexibility
- Advancing age
- Alignment abnormalities of the leg
Symptoms may include:
- Pain, particularly with activity
- Decreased motion of related joints
- Local swelling
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
If your symptoms are severe your doctor may need some images of the tendon and bone. Imaging tests may include:
Treatment depends on: