Tendinopathy, Tendonitis & Tendinosis
If you’re experiencing pain in a muscle or tendon, you may have a tendinopathy, tendonitis or tendinosis. Don’t be confused by the different terms - they’re just a way we can medically differentiate which stage of injury you’re at, which additional symptoms you may present with, and which additional aspects to treatment we may need to consider on our end. Forget the terms and remember this: You have an injured tendon, and it needs to be treated before it gets worse, tears or even ruptures.
So how did I injure my tendon?
We have tendons all around our body - they’re strong, fibrous bands that connect our muscles to our bones. Most tendinopathies are a result of overloading and repetitive force on the muscle and tendon over time that results in their damage.
When the strain from your daily tasks or sporting activities push the tendon past the point that it can safely handle, the damage will trigger the onset of symptoms. This is when it becomes very important to stop, listen to your body and seek professional care - before it gets any worse.
The specific causes are really anything that combines using your tendon with force. Think lifting a heavy object, running, throwing a ball... Whatever exerts your muscles and tendons past a normal, safe point - which can be different for everyone depending on your strength and previous conditioning.
Of course, you may also sustain an injury from a trauma or accident too, like being whacked hard with a ball at the back of the lower leg and injuring your tendon.
How will I know if it’s a tendinopathy?
When a regular activity becomes painful, and you can feel that it’s linked to a particular movement of a muscle or muscle group, it’s sensible to wonder if you’ve damaged the tendon. Please don’t guess, however, as incorrect self-diagnoses more often than not lead to the worsening of the injury and a much longer recovery time. You’ll also likely notice:
Pain and aches that radiate around the injury site
Stiffness and limited movement around the injured tendon
Swelling and heat
Weakness when attempting to use the nearby injured area (e.g. weakness in the arm when you have a shoulder tendinopathy)
How will you treat it and prevent it from becoming more serious?
The main goal with injuries is to correct them before you reach the 6-week mark. Once you reach this point we know there is not only changes at the site of the injury but also neural changes happening in your brain that causes chronic pain cycles. If you experience mechanical pain that continues to worsen over the course of 1-2 weeks or doesn’t settle it is important to see someone. The cost of one appointment to have some education far outweighs months of rehabilitation and rest from the activities you enjoy.