What is it?
The term tendinopathy covers a number of tendon disorders that result in pain, swelling and reduced function. Typically the elbow, shoulder, knee and ankle are affected.
Why does it occur?
The condition is more common in athletes or those whose job requires the same repetitive activity, over-working one particular joint. It is also associated with those who have diabetes and thyroid disease.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary, from pain local to the area of the body affected, to general joint stiffness and a reduction in your range of movement. Swelling, heat and redness are common, as is pain when using the muscles close to the tendons affected.
How is it diagnosed?
The cause of the condition is poorly understood, but is thought to result from a chronic cycle of inflammation and incomplete repair following a tendon micro-injury. Diagnosis involves a careful examination of the affected joint and a thorough clinical history. Ultrasound imaging and MRI scans often help with the diagnosis.
How is it treated?
Physical therapy, the use of orthotics and braces, and anti-inflammatory medication will, in the vast majority of cases, be sufficient over time to allow the tendons to repair and resolve most symptoms. Although they do not give much benefit in the long term, steroid injections may help alleviate acute symptoms while doing physiotherapy. Your consultant may also recommend PRP (platelet rich plasma) injections, which are a relatively new treatment that can help in promoting repair of the tendon.
In chronic debilitating cases, but only occasionally, surgery may be required. This usually involves the removal of the damaged tissue and possibly some repair.
One Orthopaedics team specialists
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon FRCS (Tr&Orth), Knee and Hip
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon FRCS (Tr&Orth), Knee
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon FRCS (Tr&Orth), Hip and Knee
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon FRCS (Tr&Orth), Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist and Hand
Pain Management Consultant FRCA FFPMRCA
Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon FRCS (Tr&Orth), Foot and Ankle