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Tendinopathy

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Summary

Tendinopathy refers to tendon pain or injury due to overuse and can occur with any tendon throughout the human body. One of the most common forms of tendinopathy is ‘Tendonitis’, which refers to the acute injury and inflammation of a tendon, followed by the less prevalent ‘Tendinosis’, which describes a chronic tendon injury with no inflammation.

Manual therapies on muscles, ligaments, capsules, nerves and bones such as Active Release Technique or fascia manipulation and taping can generally help sufferers of tendinopathy.

Quick facts

Extremely common
Low difficulty to treat

Did you know?

Tendon injury and resulting tendinopathy are responsible for up to 30% of consultations to sports doctors and other musculoskeletal health providers.

source: Wikipedia

Tendinopathy is often thought of as a ‘sports injury’, however the truth is that it can occur with people of all ages and backgrounds, regardless of their physical activity levels. It is generally a result of ‘overuse’, particularly from activities which involve a repetitive motion – in these cases it is considered to be a type of Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). That being said, it can also be simply a result of aging.

When a tendon is placed under pressure, it can suffer from micro-tears which will heal over time when treated effectively. However if rather than being rested the tendon is constantly exposed to the same stress at frequent intervals, the damage can occur more quickly than the body can heal itself, resulting in a tendinopathy.

Generally speaking most forms of tendinopathy will respond well to treatment and healing can take place within a few weeks to several months. It is important that sufferers do not exacerbate the injury by irritating or disrupting the tendon’s healing process before it is ready to be used again, otherwise long-term damage can be inflicted and the condition can become chronic.

A rehabilitation schedule including manual therapies (on muscles, ligaments, capsules, nerves, bones) such as Active Release Technique or fascia manipulation and taping can help to ease the pain of tendinopathy.

Causes of tendinopathy

  • Overuse of the tendon
  • Wear and tear to the tendon as a result of ageing
  • Repetitive strain injury
  • Obesity

The following demographics are considered to be high-risk candidates for tendinopathy:

  • People with diabetes
  • Post-menopausal women
  • Men with fat around their midsection
  • Athletes who have sustained an injury

Other symptoms of tendinopathy

Sufferers of tendinopathy may experience the following symptoms:

  • Mild to severe pain in the affected area
  • Stiffness in the affected area
  • Redness in the affected area
  • Swelling in the affected area
  • Tenderness in the affected area
  • Decreased movement and strength
  • Sluggishness in the affected area
  • Warmth in the affected area
  • A ‘crunchy’ sensation when using the tendon
  • Symptoms which worsen at night and alleviate as the day progresses

Top tips for tendon care

  • wear supportive shoes when participating in sports
  • ensure that you perform warm up and cool down stretches when exercising
  • gradually increase the intensity of your workouts, rather than suddenly
  • allow for recovery time between workouts
  • use correct technique to avoid tendon stress or strain
  • consider inserting shock-absorbing orthotics into your shoes
  • consider using taping or bandaging your legs, to bind your tendons to the shin
  • avoid sports and physical activities which cause tendon pain

Effective treatment of tendinopathy

Tendinopathy can be treated quite effectively at home, by following some simple guidelines:

  • Allow the area which is causing you pain lots of rest
  • Use an ice pack and hold to the affected area
  • Practice muscle strengthening and stretching exercises

A mechanics assessment and an understanding about how you utilise your body in your chosen sport or repetitive activity will help a professional to provide a customised and comprehensive rehabilitation schedule suited to you. This may include the usage of manual therapy (on muscles, ligaments, capsules, nerves, bones) such as Active Release Technique or fascia manipulation and taping, which is effective for helping to treat the pain and promote healing of tendinopathy.

For more serious injuries, your doctor may recommend that you undertake steroid injections, Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT), ultrasound therapy of in extreme cases, surgery.


This page has been produced, reviewed and approved by:

Dr Shermain Wong

BAppSc (Chiropractic), Masters (Clinical Chiropractic)

Photo of Dr Shermain Wong

Dr Shermain Wong is a chiropractor at Jurmaine Health with expertise in general treatment and over 6 years experience.

With a Masters in Clinical Chiropractic from RMIT University, Shermain has provided chiropractic and movement rehabilitation services at international sporting competitions, professional dancers, professional football players and
professional athletes.

At Jurmaine Health, she helps patients address and treat common musculoskeletal symptoms and conditions, including back pain, neck pain; shoulder pain; nerve pain, joint pain and many other conditions

She is a member of Sport Medicine Australia, College of Osteopathy and Chiropractic Association, Australian Association of Musculoskeletal Medicine and International Society of Clinical Rehabilitation Specialists.

With her experience in Sports Medicine and treating Sports Injuries, she is a sought after expert for professional athletes and sports clubs. She has worked with the Coburg Lions VFL club, Melbourne Ice Hockey Women, World Ironman Championships, Australia CrossFit Regionals and others.


This document was last updated and reviewed in May 2016.

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