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Tendinitis (tendinopathy)

What is tendinitis?

People use the term “tendinitis” to refer to all kinds of injury to a tendon (the tissue that connects muscles to bones and other parts of the body). The proper term is actually “tendinopathy,” and tendinitis is one common form of tendinopathy. At Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, we treat these problems with a team of doctors, physical therapists, sports medicine specialists and other experts to help children get back to the activities they love and avoid future injury.

What are the types of tendinopathy?

There are three types of tendinopathy:

Tendinitis

Tendinitis is when a tendon is strained or inflamed, which often means it hurts to move or use that part of the body.

Tendinosis

Tendinosis is when a tendon gradually breaks down and weakens over time. Generally, this affects adults, but may also happen to older children.

Paratenonitis

Paratenonitis is when the sheath or covering that surrounds the tendon (called the paratenon) gets damaged from repeatedly rubbing against the tendon it surrounds or against a nearby bone.

What are the signs and symptoms of tendinopathies

  • Pain or weakness when using the muscle with the damaged tendon
  • Swelling
  • A creaky or squeaky feeling in that part of the body (paratenonitis only)

How are tendinitis and other tendinopathies diagnosed?

We diagnose most tendinopathies by talking with children about their symptoms and activity and doing a simple physical exam, to see what movements or actions they have trouble with. If the child is older and we think they might have tendinosis, we will often do an MRI or ultrasound to see how much the tendon has worn down and what is the best kind of treatment.

What causes tendinopathies?

Most forms of tendinopathy come from repetitive or strenuous movement that causes the tendon to swell or tear. We often see athletes who develop tendinopathy from activities like swinging bats or tennis rackets or repeatedly jumping during practice.

How are tendinitis and other tendinopathies treated?

Most children will fully recover from a tendinopathy within a few weeks by resting and icing their injured tendon. Depending on the type of injury, we may recommend wearing a compression sleeve or brace or taking medicine to reduce swelling.

To help your child continue their favorite activities without getting hurt again, we’ll teach your child exercises and stretches that build strong and limber muscles all around the tendon that was injured. We will also train them in techniques for running, swimming and other athletics that will help keep them from re-injuring the tendon.

Tendinopathy Doctors and Providers

At Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, your child is cared for by a range of experts in orthopedics, sports medicine and physical therapy, all of whom specialize in treating kids and adolescents. Our team includes people with expertise in specific activities, such as running and dance, who help children practice the healthiest form and technique for their bodies.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does it take to recover from tendinitis and other tendinopathies?

    After two to four weeks of rest, a child can usually do limited activity with their injured body part. Most children can resume full activity four to six weeks after being injured.

  • How can my child avoid tendinitis and other tendinopathies?

    The best way to avoid these kinds of injuries is through physical conditioning. That includes doing proper warm-ups before activity, practicing proper technique for athletic movements, and cross-training so that your child develops supporting muscles. For example, if your child developed hamstring tendinitis (which affects the back of the leg) from playing soccer, they can protect their hamstring in the future by strengthening all the muscles of the leg, through an activity such as cycling.