Navigating Tendon Injuries: Tendinitis vs. Tendinosis – Recognizing and Managing the Difference Tendinitis versus Tendinosis
Frequently, injuries to tendons are misdiagnosed as “tendinitis,” but the more prevalent issue is often “tendinosis.” It’s essential to understand the difference between the two for effective treatment. Tendinitis primarily focuses on reducing inflammation, a goal not relevant to tendinosis. Some treatments designed to alleviate inflammation might even hinder healing for tendinosis.
Tendinitis vs. Tendinosis: A Brief Overview
- Cause: Typically results from acute overuse or injury.
- Characteristics: Inflammation of the tendon, accompanied by pain, swelling, and tenderness.
- Onset: Rapid, often linked to a specific incident.
- Treatment: Active Release Technique, chiropractic care, incorporating soft tissue and inflammation-reducing therapies, along with rest, ice, and a gradual return to activity.
- Recovery Time: May take weeks to months to fully heal.
- Cause: Develops over time due to chronic overuse without adequate recovery.
- Characteristics: Degeneration of the tendon structure, leading to collagen breakdown and abnormal tissue formation.
- Onset: Gradual, with symptoms appearing after damage has occurred.
- Treatment: Active Release Technique, chiropractic care, including soft tissue therapies, substantial rest, and rehabilitation exercises.
- Recovery Time: May take months to fully heal.
Understanding Tendonitis versus Tendinosis
Tendinitis occurs when the tendon sustains micro-tears, leading to inflammation. On the other hand, Tendinosis is a consequence of prolonged overuse rather than a sudden acute incident like Tendonitis. According to Karim Khan, MD, PhD, “With tendinosis, there’s an abnormal accumulation of collagen or protein – the microfibers in the tendon start resembling sticky, overcooked spaghetti.” Damage typically happens well before symptoms such as pain, tightness, and soreness become apparent. Tendinosis develops due to insufficient rest between activities involving heavy loading or repetitive movements in the affected area. In contrast to tendinitis, recovery from tendinosis often necessitates a minimum of three to six months. Bryan Chung, MD, PhD, emphasizes, “It’s unrealistic to expect healing in, let’s say, six weeks, because it probably took a lot longer than that to reach the point of pain.”
Treatment and Management
Proper management of tendinitis and tendinosis is crucial for a successful recovery. To address tendinitis, treatment involves chiropractic care, incorporating soft tissue and inflammation-reducing therapies, along with rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications (when necessary), and a gradual return to normal everyday activity.
During tendinosis recovery, effective treatment plans include soft tissue treatments to break down the scar tissue thickening and exercise rehabilitation to promote proper collagen strengthening once the thickening is improved. Examples of soft tissue treatments that we utilize include:
These therapies are designed to increase the supply of blood and collagen-rebuilding elements to the tendon and affected area. Healthcare professionals agree that ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), often recommended for tendinitis, don’t relieve tendinosis because there’s no inflammation present. They could even impair healing. The preferred treatment remains conservative rehabilitation.
Understanding the nature of your tendon injury is the first step toward effective rehabilitation. Consult with one of our chiropractors for an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific condition and needs. Early intervention and comprehensive care significantly contribute to a successful and quick recovery. Call 920-434-2221 or visit hccgb.com/contact to schedule your appointment today!