Tendinopathy or tendon disease

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What is it?

Tendinopathy refers to disease of a tendon.

What is a tendon?

Well it consists of a bundle of collagen tissue that connects muscle to bone. You may have heard of the Achilles tendon at the back of your ankle. This connects your calf muscle to your heel bones. Other tendons in the lower leg include the patellar tendon just below the knee cap and your gluteal tendons at the side of your hip. In the upper body you have your rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder and many other tendons that cross the elbow and the wrist. All connect muscle to bone.

The term tendonitis is no longer used as the suffix itis refers to something inflammatory. We now know from studies that there is absent or minimal inflammation occurring in Tendinopathy . 

One thing that tendons don’t like is sudden change. So if you run 5km without prior training you are at risk of overloading your Achilles and causing  pain. Too much too soon and the tendon can’t cope. The collagen fibers become disrupted and there is a failed healing response. We also know that doing nothing and resting a tendon will cause it to weaken. The balance is somewhere in between.

In early Tendinopathy the pain may present at the beginning of an activity and then disappear during the activity only to reappear later. As the condition progresses pain tends to occur with activity.

Treatment includes strengthening exercises, both static and dynamic, for the affected muscle and tendon. Establishing the correct amount of activity that the tendon can cope with is important. We know that they don’t like rest unless they are in the very acute or painful stage where you need to settle the pain down.

Here at Southside Physiotherapy we can diagnose and treat your Tendinopathy. You will be given a suitable home exercise programme and advice on how much you should rest or use your affected tendon.

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