Tendons are fibrous bands of tissue that attach your muscles to your bones. Both tendonitis and tendonosis fall under the heading of tendonopathies. So what’s the difference between the two?
Tendonitis occurs when a tendon is overloaded or overused, causing inflammation and tiny tears in the tendon. It can be painful, the tendon may become weak, and you may have a loss of function in the affected muscles as a result.
Tendonosis is also a tendon condition, and it is more common than tendonitis. Tendonosis is a condition where the collagen fibers of the tendon have become broken down, misaligned, and don’t link together properly. Tendonosis is caused by chronic overuse or repetitive movements involving the tendon. It can also cause pain and weakness in the tendon.
Why the confusion between tendonitis and tendonosis? Many people assume that when they have a tendon injury, it begins with inflammation of the tendon, or tendonitis. However, scientists have found in many tendon conditions, when the tendon tissue is examined microscopically, there was actually no inflammation present. Instead, the tendon fibers were found to be disorganized, misaligned, and degenerating. Some scientists suggest that tendonosis may be the first stage of a tendon injury, causing the tendon to become weak and prone to the micro-tearing and inflammation of tendonitis.
It’s important to differentiate between the two tendonopathies when developing strategies for treatment. In the past, standard treatment for all tendon issues have been to reduce inflammation, which is appropriate for cases of tendonitis. However, if your tendon injury is tendonosis, using anti-inflammatory agents, such as Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) or steroid injections, may actually inhibit the process of collagen rebuilding. In treating tendonosis, treatment should focus on limiting further injury, enhancing production of new collagen, and helping regain strength in the tendon to restore normal function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3312643/
Treating Tendonopathies at BodaHealth
If you are experiencing a tendon injury, it may feel like it’s taking forever to heal. At BodaHealth, we get it; the reality is that it may take several weeks to months for full recovery. However, depending on the nature of your tendon injury, we are able to offer a number of safe and effective treatments to speed the healing process. Among them:
- Massage therapy can help reduce pain, increase circulation, and improve the health of tendon tissue, especially if performed at the correct depth. Research has found that deep-friction massage to the tendon helps to increase circulation and stimulate the production of new collagen. This helps speed healing, increase strength in the tendon, and improve mobility. In addition, myofascial techniques such as fascial stretch can help to lengthen tight muscles, reset muscle memory, and decrease tension in the tendon during activity.
-A great deal of research has shown that shockwave therapy is effective in treating tendonopathies. Shockwave therapy is a healing method that applies pulsed acoustic waves to the injured area as a way to reduce pain and stimulate healing. It works by increasing circulation and the formation of tiny blood vessels to the injured area, which allows for better transport of nutrients necessary for healing.
- Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years as a way to relieve pain and promote healing, and treating tendon issues. Acupuncture works to relieve pain through the upregulation of your body’s pain control system. It reduces inflammation in the treated area, promotes circulation, and accelerates the healing process.
-Researchers have found that Perineuroal Injection Therapy (PIT) and hyaluronic acid injections help speed the healing time of tendonopathies. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2014/783632/ Hyaluronic acid is a substance that’s naturally found in your body. It provides nutrients to your cells, removes wastes, decreases inflammation, promotes healing, and supports and cushions your body’s tissues. When used for tendon repair, it’s been found to decrease inflammation, increase healing cellular activity, promote collagen production, and help to reduce friction on the tendon surface.
Other treatments that may be used at BodaHealth in treating your tendon injury include:
- Working with our kinesiologist to adjust work ergonomics and the biomechanics of your movements to develop strategies for reducing further injury.
- Traditional Chinese medicine, which includes herbal medicine, heat therapy, cupping, and Tui Na as adjunctive therapies to support tendon healing.
- Osteopathy, as a way to determine and correct biomechanical imbalances that may be causing or contributing to your injury.
- Nutritional strategies from our naturopathic physician. Certain nutrients and vitamins are necessary for the production of collagen and important for maintaining tendon health.
- Therapeutic exercise, targeted stretching, and clinical Pilates all can offer effective rehabilitation strategies for tendon injuries, both in support of healing as well as for preventing further injury.
At BodaHealth, we’re committed to helping you recover from your tendonopathy (tendinitis and tendinosis). Our treatments are focused on interrupting the cycle of injury, promoting the generation of healthy collagen, increasing tendon strength, reducing pain, and getting you back to full functioning and mobility. Contact us today to talk about how we can help with your tendon injury.