What is “Tendonitis”?

Tendinitis literally means ‘inflammation of a tendon’. It is usually an acute injury that happens when the tendon is overloaded, which in turn causes pain and swelling from small tears in the injured tendon. A tendinitis can take anywhere between 4-8 weeks to heal if it’s managed well with physiotherapy, anti-inflammatories and basic RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) principles.

What is “Tendinosis”?

Tendinosis is more of a ‘degeneration’ of the tendon, not an inflammation. It normally happens when there is repetitive trauma or overuse of a tendon over time or if it fails to heal from a previous injury. There is a disruption of the alignment of the collagen fibres that make up the tendon and they don’t link together as well. This makes the tendon weaker and leaves it open to further injury or rupture if it’s continued to be used. A tendinosis can take between 3-6 months to heal once it becomes a chronic problem, but normally responds well to physiotherapy. Your physio will work with you to break the injury cycle and reduce the stress on your tendon by looking at your biomechanics and encouraging rest, as well as other treatment techniques and strengthening work.

This photo below is a good example using the Achilles tendon to show the difference between a ‘tendinitis’ and a ‘tendinosis’ injury. These types of injuries respond best if you catch them early, so make sure to check with your friendly physio if any of this information is ringing true to you!

What is Tendon “Rupture”?

The definition of “rupture” means to break or burst. A tendon rupture is exactly that, where the tendon has burst/torn. This is very serious and requires immediate medical attention, often surgical, but not always.

By Rhiannon Barnard