Tendon pain and Tendinopathy

The commonest type of tendon pain is tendinopathy.  Tendinopathy refers to a painful condition affecting a tendon regardless of what causes the pain. Tendinopathies can arise as a result of overtraining or excessive training, for example running, and are therefore sometimes called overuse conditions.  Overtraining isn’t always the cause and tendinopathies can arise for other reasons.

Tendinopathies are common and painful and can become longstanding problems especially if not treated properly and in a timely fashion.

In the past, other terms have been used to describe painful tendon problems:

Tendonitis – an injury to the tendon that is accompanied by inflammation.

Tendinosis – a longer-term painful tendon condition in which tiny tears appear in the tendon  This is often caused by overuse.

The exact reason why tendinopathies develop isn’t known, but a number of theories about exist:

  • Mechanical theory – repeated loading of the tendon results in microscopic wear within the tendon, resulting in scar tissue.
  • Vascular theory – tendon wear occurs as a result of small areas of reduced blood flow in the tendon.
  • Neural modulation – neurally (nervous system) mediated changes, including the release of  a specific chemical called substance P cause tendinopathy.