Normal tendon tissue seen under the magnification of a microscope. Ed Reschke / Getty Images

Tendinosis is a condition that is characterized by swelling and pain of a tendon. Tendinosis is often confused with tendonitis, but these are different conditions.

Tendinitis is a problem that causes inflammation and is most often the result of an acute injury. This problem is characterized by swelling, redness, warmth, and pain. When the tendon is seen under the microscope, inflammatory conditions have specific cells that the body brings to that area of the body to help control the inflammation and heal the injured tendon.

Tendinosis usually causes no redness or warmth of the surrounding soft tissues, although the area can be painful to touch. Tendinosis is a chronic problem, meaning it develops gradually and lasts a long time. When seen under a microscope, inflammatory cells are not present, although chronic damage and microscopic tears of the tendon may be seen.

Types of Tendinosis

Tendinosis can occur in many tendons throughout the body, although it is commonly seen in patients with:

Treatment of Tendinosis

Because tendinosis is a different problem from inflammation, the typical treatments to address inflammation are less likely to be helpful.  Therefore, oral anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, and cryotherapy (ice application) are less likely to be beneficial in the treatment of tendinosis.

Instead, one of the most beneficial treatments for this condition is with physical therapy.

  Specifically, eccentric contractions of the muscle-tendon that is damaged has been shown to be effective at reducing pain and healing the damaged tendon.

Common Misspellings: Tendinosus, Tendonosis

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