Tendinitis & Tendinosis: Inflammed Tendons

What is the difference between tendinitis and tendinosis?

The two words look similar and some people may use them interchangeably. However, tendinitis and tendinosis are two separate conditions. Tendinitis refers to inflammation of the tendons. Tendinosis refers to the degeneration of those tendons, usually from chronic tendinitis.

Tendinitis is caused by undue strain on tendons.

Muscles attach to bones via tendons, extensions of the muscles that are made up of tough fibrous connective tissue.  Muscles that become chronically tight either through overuse as in repetitive activities, or through inflammation caused by injury to the muscle, put an undue strain on the tendons and their attachment sites.

Tendinitis is common to joints that experience a lot of stress through either repetitive motion or explosive motion.

Some examples of repetitive motion are typing, playing an instrument, wood working, needle work such as needle point, crocheting, and knitting, as well as work in a factory.

Explosive motion is common in sports, either by design, or when a movement is executed improperly or unexpectedly, or countered or interrupted as in combat sports, football, basketball, volleyball, martial arts, track & field, gymnastics, some forms of dance, and so forth.

Some common types of tendinitis are:

Shoulder tendinitis — rotator cuff injury or overuse such as in swimming or pitching, volleyball (overhead serve, spiking the ball across the net), or  rescue work (fire fighters etc)

Elbow tendinitis — golfer’s elbow and tennis elbow

Wrist tendinitis and fingers — all the fine motor skills used when playing instruments, typing, doing arts and crafts, or painting, as well as doing fine electronics assembly; also rock climbing

Knee tendinitis — patellar tendinitis in basketball and volleyball players; also common in girls and women due to slight misalignment of the patellar tendon

Ankle tendinitis — achilles tendinitis in track &  field from jumping and lunging, or gymnastics

Tendinosis can follow tendinitis.

Tendinosis follows tendinitis that has not healed after several months.  It is a chronic condition which manifests as tightness or pain, muscle weakness,  loss of fine motor skill, and decreased range of motion.

Inflammation is the body’s response to injury no matter what the source.  Swelling, pain, heat, and muscle dysfunction all occur as the body tries to protect and heal itself.  Although a natural healing response by the body, inflammation often leads to fascial adhesions, as well as shortening and hardening of tendons.

The fascia, tendons, and ligaments are types of connective tissue that hold all the body parts together and allow movements of all the joints.  While the tendons connect muscles to bone, the ligaments connect one bone to another.  The fascia and membranes create compartments for all the organs and body structures, including the muscles, bones, blood vessels, nerves, lymph vessels, and meridians (the energy pathways of the body).

With injury from repetitive strain, poor posture, poor techniques, or trauma, as well as infections, the connective tissue becomes sticky and distorted, and tightens around the area of injury, immobilizing the body part to prevent further injury.  Over time, the connective tissue (fascia, tendons, ligaments), which holds, contains, and protects the body parts, can become like a straight jacket, reducing range of motion, muscle strength and function, as well as blood & lymph flow, nerve conduction, and energy flow.

Craniosacral therapy and energetic unwinding can reduce inflammation from tendinitis.

Energetic unwinding of the spine, joints & muscles, an intuitive blend of craniosacral therapy, acupressure, and soft tissue work, is ideally suited to help the body release these restrictions, thus increasing the amount of space for all the body structures enveloped and linked together by the connective tissue.

The result is less tension, increased range of motion, improved function, increased energy, and, of course decreased pain or discomfort.  It’s like wearing a well fitting coat after one that has become too tight.