Tendinopathy is a pain or injury to the tendon tissue. The origin is usually dictated by acute trauma or functional overload; it can also be a consequence of some systemic diseases (including diabetes). It manifests as a local condition characterized by pain, swelling, stiffness, tenderness and warmth.
It is a fairly demanding problem to cure, because it requires adequate therapies and a lot of dedication on the part of the patient. Typically, the recovery time is several months.
What is tendinopathy?
The tendon is the part of fibrous connective tissue, with flexibility and with a high content of collagen, which joins a skeletal muscle to a bone. It is one of the components of the human musculoskeletal system (or locomotor system), just like bones, cartilages, joints, ligaments and muscles.
Tendinopathy affects fibrous structures and includes at least five different types of conditions:
- Enthesopathy (also known as tennis elbow)
- In tendinosis
- the tenosynovite
- Tendon rupture
Any tendon in the human body can develop tendinopathy; however, some are more affected than others, such as the tendons of the muscles that make up the rotator cuff (the shoulder), those of the extensor and flexor muscles of the forearm (the elbow), those of the hand, the tendons of the muscles pubis (the pelvis), the gluteus medius tendon (the hip), the patellar tendon (the knee), and the Achilles tendon (the leg and foot).
It is a pathology to be distinguished from plantar fasciitis, the inflammation of the arched ligament that causes pain in the sole of the foot. In a traumatic tendinopathy, suffering is the result of an acute event that has compromised the integrity and functionality of a tendon. Risk factors for traumatic tendinopathy are:
- Contact sports
- Road accidents
- Work involving the use of portable ladders
In general, when they depend on a trauma or functional overload, tendinopathies concern only one tendon; when instead they are connected to a systemic disease, they tend to affect more tendons scattered throughout the human body.
One of the most frequent is foot tendinopathy which affects the Achilles tendon (the largest and most resistant in the human body). Anatomically it connects the calf muscles, soleus and gastrocnemius, with the back of the heel.
Achilles tendinopathy is triggered by functional overload and affects people who play sports such as running, football, dancing. The term tendonitis, on the other hand, indicates an inflammatory process affecting the paratenon, the connective tissue that surrounds and protects the tendon.
Patellar tendinopathy, also known as "jumper's knee", is a pathological condition characterized by an acute or chronic inflammatory state that affects the proximal portion of the patellar tendon near its insertion at the level of the patella.
It is found more frequently among subjects who practice a sport in which a repetitive load occurs at the level of the patellar enthesis with development of explosive force mainly during the execution of the technical gesture of jumping. Sports such as basketball, volleyball, high jump, long jump can lead to the development of symptoms.
Insertional tendinopathy is a chronic and very painful disease that affects the Achilles tendon at the point where it connects with the heel. It is a real rubbing pathology, with a mechanical stress that produces pain at the bone protrusion of the heel.
Calcific tendinopathy, or shoulder tendinopathy, is a clinical condition that affects the shoulder joint. It occurs suddenly with very intense pain and depends on an excessive accumulation of calcium deposits in the tendons of the shoulder rotator cuff.
Diagnosis and treatment of tendinopathies
The diagnosis is based on the medical history taken by the doctor. Tests such as musculoskeletal ultrasound or MRI may be needed to confirm the presence of a tendinopathy and in some cases to evaluate for complications.
The treatment adopted varies according to the type of tendon injury. Except for tendon ruptures, for which surgery is often required, physical therapy, such as the RICE protocol, is preferred, which features a period of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Or targeted physiotherapy exercises, such as physical rehabilitation, the use of a brace and the intake of anti-inflammatory drugs.
To prevent tendinopathy, it is advisable not to exceed in the practice of sporting activities, dosing workloads, varying training and scheduling rest.
The FLOKY chalice to prevent tendinopathy
In addition to physical precautions, special clothing can be used to counteract the pathology. For example, Floky stockings are biomechanical stockings designed for sports activities that provide improved support of all biomechanical functions, contributing to pain reduction. The Tape System acts like a second tendon, reducing vibration and preserving the Achilles tendon from possible micro-traumas and inflammations.