Tendinitis or Tendinosis?

There is in fact a difference between tendinitis and tendinosis. Tendinitis is an acute inflammation of the tendon due to micro tears. Tendinosis is a non-inflammatory degeneration of the tendons resulting in a disruption of the collagen fibers. 

Now, why does this distinction matter? Well, the symptoms, treatment, and prognosis for these two conditions are significantly different.

Tendinitis is a common diagnosis that is rarely seen in an orthopedist or physical therapy office. This diagnosis holds more power and fear than there should be surrounding it. The treatment protocol for tendonitis includes anti-inflammatory pills to decrease the swelling, rest and ice. Acute cases of tendinitis can heal within several days and chronic cases can take up to 6 weeks to heal.  

Tendinosis, however, has varying stages. This condition is also much more commonly seen at an orthopedist or physical therapy office. Tendinosis can take as little as 6 weeks and as much as 6 months to heal. The treatment protocol for tendinosis may include ice, cross friction massage, strengthening and/or surgery. Since the treatment protocol greatly varies depending on the patient's symptoms, Physical Therapists play a crucial role in the recovery of a patient with tendinosis. 

Meghna Jain, SPT

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