A tendon is a fibrous band of tissue. They connect muscles to bones. There are several names used for an inflamed, injured, or damaged tendon. These include tendonitis, tendinopathy, tendinosis, tenosynovitis, paratenonitis, and a tendon rupture. Despite similar symptoms, they are different. Understanding the conditions can help prevent problems. This will allow for proper treatment.
In the past, tendonitis was the term for almost all tendon pain. However, now it refers to acute inflammation. This typically occurs as the result of a small tear. These small tears occur from a sudden injury or repeated micro-traumas. The symptoms of tendonitis include:
- localized pain
Tendonitis treatment involves reducing inflammation. Often rest and over-the-counter medications are enough. However, recovery from tendonitis takes a few weeks. Although tendon inflammation is rare. Damaged tendons are commonly misdiagnosed. In may cases, tendinosis is the cause of pain. Often developing from chronic tendonitis.
Tendinosis is a non-inflammatory degeneration of the tendon. This condition causes structural changes in the tendon. The altered composition occurs as a result of repetitive strain-injuries that ever properly healed. It is most common among individuals who perform intensive activities or sports.
Unlike tendonitis, tendinosis can take several months to heal. However, it should be treated with NSAIDs. NSAIDs inhibit the natural reconstruction of tendons. This interferes with healing.
Tendinopathy describes any problem with a tendon. The suffix “pathy” is derived from the Greek word for disease. Tendinopathy, therefore, means tendon disease or disorder. Most use tendinopathy as an umbrella term. However, some describe a single condition. Though tendinopathy can also refer to a condition that does not heal.
If diagnosed with tendinopathy, your doctor will explain further. Therefore, it’s important to understand the cause and the nature of the damage.
- Paratenonitis is where the paratenon becomes inflamed
- Tenosynovitis is an inflamed synovial sheath
Some tendons such as the Achilles, have a protective sheath, called the paratenon. However, other tendons, such as wrist tendons, are surrounded by a synovial sheath instead. The condition diagnosed though will depend on the injury and tissue.
Tenosynovitis is diagnosed with testing. But paratenonitis requires a biopsy for an accurate diagnosis. Treatment for both conditions, however, is the same. By reducing inflammation and restricting movements. This will help heal the affected tendon.
Tendons can tear. When a tear occurs its called a rupture. These tears can be complete or partial. If it tears in two places its a complete tear. However, if it remains intact, the rupture is only partial. In addition to this, ruptures can acute and chronic.
- Acute tendon rupture. They cause immediate pain and reduced function. Ruptures are one time events. Bruising and swelling are likely. It’s important to treat ruptures within two weeks.
- Chronic tendon rupture. Its usually caused by an untreated acute rupture. When a rupture remains untreated for over 4 weeks, its classified as a chronic rupture. It can also develop when a partial rupture gets worse over a prolonged time.
Treatment for a tendon rupture, however, depends on the severity of the tear. If symptoms are severe, surgery or joint immobilization could be required. Reduced movement and rest is the most common treatment option.