Understanding Tendon Injuries
What is a tendon? – Tendons attach muscle to bone, each muscle has two tendons, their job it is transmit forces generated from a muscle as it contracts – acting as a pulley moving the joint.
There are numerous medical terms to describe injury to a tendon: tendonitis, tendinosis and tendinopathy.
How do tendons become injured?
Tendons most commonly become injured as a result of excessive loads.
Tendons act like elastic bands, they can stretch and bounce back into shape. Like elastic bands, if too much load is applied they can stretch or tear. Tendon overloading can occur in people of all shapes and sizes, fitness levels and at any age. The Achilles tendon is one of the most commonly injured tendons especially within sportsmen/women, often due to long-term overuse and repetitive actions.
Injury to the Achilles tendon can also occur in people who do not have an active lifestyle eg, deciding to go on an unaccustomed long walk or run. To prevent this type of injury its advisable to gradually increase your activity over a number of weeks or months. Micro tears can occur in healthy tendons that are suddenly overloaded (e.g., during running or jumping), or overused (e.g. sustaining a set position with a continued repetitive action such as cutting overhead branches or painting a ceiling).
Tendons repair slowly in comparison to other tissues such as muscles because they have a poor supply of blood.
Common tendon injuries
- Achilles tendinitis.
- Below the kneecap (Patella tendinopathy).
- Tendons that attach to your shoulder blade (Rotator cuff tendinopathy).
- Biceps Tendinopathy.
- Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis).
- Golfers elbow (Medial Epicondylitis).
Most tendons share their name with the muscle they attach to. The ‘Achilles’ tendon has its own name, from the mythical Greek character who’s heel was his only point of weakness.
Tendon injury risk factors
Factors that increase the risk of developing a tendon injury:
- Ageing (reduced blood supply and healing capability).
- Altered biomechanics (e.g., if you have injured your shoulder or leg and the pain changes the way you move).
- Limited joint movement
What to expect during an osteopathy assessment for joint pain
I like to gain an understanding of each patients occupation, hobbies, general and medical health. This allows me to consider contributing factors of each injury and offer advice in aim to prevent future joint problems. I assess the painful area, movement within related joints and implement orthopaedic tests. The results from these assessments are then reviewed in combination with the case history, forming a diagnosis.
Treatment involves targeting the causal joints and tissues by utilising hands-on techniques which are individually tailored in association with each patients posture, level of pain and mobility. I like to empower each patient making sure they fully understand their condition and provide home exercises which can speed up the recovery process.
If you are suffering from joint pain and would like an assessment or further information, please feel free to contact me.