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What is tendinopathy? And why don’t we use the term tendinitis anymore?

Tendinopathy means tendon dysfunction, and more accurately describes what is happening in a painful tendon. Inflammation is not always present and this is an important principle when deciding how best to treat this condition.

Tendinopathy occurs when the tendon is overloaded, usually from repetitive use and lack of a proper training plan. “Too much, too soon” can result in tendon injury. To strengthen a tendon requires careful management of load; both in a healthy and in a painful tendon.

Prevention is best, but if you already have tendinopathy; the recovery and rehabilitation must be staged carefully. Relative rest is important especially early in the recovery; but complete rest, especially for a prolonged period of time can be very detrimental to tendon recovery.

Early stages of rehabilitation attempt to load the tendon in a way that encourages rebuilding; and appropriate strengthening is a critical part of this plan. Isometric strength exercise has been proven to be effective in both managing tendon pain and rebuilding tendon. An example of an isometric exercise for patellar tendinopathy would be a squat hold. There are multiple stages of tendon recovery, from early relative rest and isometric exercise to
heavy slow resistance exercise to dynamic and specifically guided return to activity rehabilitation.

There are also some useful adjuncts to tendon treatment…. Stay tuned for our next blog!