Is this topic for you?
The heel and elbow joints
are common sites of tendon injuries. For more information about tendon injuries
in these areas, see the topics
Achilles Tendon Problems and
This topic does not address
severe tendon tears or ruptures. To help you assess a tendon injury, see the
Shoulder Problems and Injuries,
Knee Problems and Injuries,
Finger, Hand, and Wrist Injuries, or
Toe, Foot, and Ankle Injuries.
What is a tendon injury?
Tendons are the tough fibers that connect muscle to
bone. For example, see a picture of the
Achilles tendon , which connects the calf muscle to the heel bone. Most tendon
injuries occur near joints, such as the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. A
tendon injury may seem to happen suddenly, but usually it is the result of many
tiny tears to the tendon that have happened over time.
may use different terms to describe a tendon injury. You may hear:
- Tendinitis. This actually means
"inflammation of the tendon," but
inflammation is rarely the cause of tendon
- Tendinosis. This refers to tiny tears in the tissue in and
around the tendon caused by overuse.
Most experts now use the term
tendinopathy to include both inflammation and
microtears. But many doctors may still use the term tendinitis to describe a
What causes a tendon injury?
Most tendon injuries
are the result of gradual wear and tear to the tendon from overuse or aging.
Anyone can have a tendon injury. But people who make the same motions over and
over in their jobs, sports, or daily activities are more likely to damage a
A tendon injury can happen suddenly or little by little.
You are more likely to have a sudden injury if the tendon has been weakened
What are the symptoms?
Tendinopathy usually causes
pain, stiffness, and loss of strength in the affected area.
- The pain may get worse when you use the
- You may have more pain and stiffness during the night or
when you get up in the morning.
- The area may be tender, red,
warm, or swollen if there is inflammation.
- You may notice a
crunchy sound or feeling when you use the tendon.
The symptoms of a tendon injury can be a lot like those
How is a tendon injury diagnosed?
To diagnose a
tendon injury, a doctor will ask questions about your past health and your
symptoms and will do a physical exam. If the injury is related to your use of a
tool or sports equipment, the doctor may ask you to show how you use it.
If your symptoms are severe or do not improve with treatment,
your doctor may want you to have a test, such as an
How is it treated?