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Tendonitis: Cause, Symptoms and Treatment

Tendonitis: Cause, Symptoms and Treatment


Firstly, what is a tendon? I often hear patients mixing up a tendon and ligament. A tendon is a fibrous connective tissue that connect a muscle to bone. In short, it is the anchor of the muscle to the skeleton. One of their main function is to transmit forces from the muscle to bone, and therefore are subject to great tensile stresses. Tendonitis has been and will always be a topical subject in the domain of research and physiotherapy. Tendinopathy has become an accepted term that describes a spectrum of changes to a tendon. A tendinopathy is a change in the structure of the tendon, typically in response to overload. Despite previous belief, there is no real inflammation happening. The pain is due to the structural changes in the tendon.


Generally the most reported cause of tendonitis is repetitive movement or minor impact on a particular tendon. Poor posture or biomechanics can result in additional strain on soft tissue such as tendons. Similarly movements which put a compressive load can also cause pain in the tendon. Overuse or too much too soon of an activity or movement can cause the tendon to have an adverse reaction, as the tendon wasn’t used to this degree of load. Some of the most common tendons or areas to experience tendon problems include:

  • Achilles tendon
  • Patellar tendon
  • Medial and lateral epicondyles of the elbow
  • Hamstring muscles
  • Gluteal muscles
  • Rotator cuff muscles

This list is not exhausted and a tendon problem may occur on any tendon.

Tendonitis Symptoms:

  • Pain and/or stiffness after activity or exercise, or more frequently the following morning.
  • Stiffness and/or pain at rest.
  • Pain that reduces after a warm up but returns when stopped or cooled down.
  • Localised tenderness when touching the tendon and thickening.

Tendonitis Treatment:

It is important to seek professional help from a chartered Physiotherapist to aid you in your recovery. Often rehabilitation and recovery can be lengthy. Ultimately the main aim of treatment is improving the capacity of the tendon and muscle to manage load. Pain and function are the two key areas to focus your rehabilitation on. Firstly, addressing pain should be the number one thing considered. Management of the load or stress on the tendon can address the pain. Educating the patient on decreasing or modifying the inappropriate stress on the tendon will help relieve symptoms. Your rehabilitation will be mainly focused on a progressive loading exercise programme. This will allow the tendon to meet the high force demands, loading rates, and volumes required for performance in sport and function day to day. Different exercise modes and contraction types will be utilised in different stages of your rehabilitation programme.

Ballsbridge Physio

The sooner you get assessed, the sooner you get on the road to recovery. Correct assessment by a qualified physiotherapist is important. Tendon healing and restoration can take up to 3-6 months. Within this period we aim to have you return to all you activities in full and completing them with minimal to no pain. Once a diagnoses has been established, your physiotherapist will create a treatment programme focusing on the cause of the tendon problem. Whether that is due to a weakness, biomechanics, training load management or other areas of your day to day life which have resulted in your tendon pain. Contact our clinic today to book your appointment or alternatively you can make a booking online.

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