Signs and Symptoms of Tendon Pain

Do you ever have a diffuse aching pain aroung a joint – that’s not quite in the joint and you can’t exactly explain?

It may come on 24 to 48 hours after starting a new activity, or doing an activity that you have not done in a while such as gardening.

The pain may be near the surface of a joint such as the outside of the forearm, the back of the elbow, maybe down the side of the shoulder, or the crevice of the buttock. Other examples include the side of the hip and the achilles region at the back of the heel.

These are a few examples of areas susceptible to tendon pathology (tendinopathy). Tendon pathology comes from a ‘failed healing response.’ A tendon is that structure that’s whte and shiny that joins the muscles to the bones, and when it undergoes a failed healing response, it means that it’s not regenerating its tissue every 48 to 72 hours – the way that it normally would if it was completely healthy.

So, a failed healing responses may come about in tendons if they are stressed well above their capacity, such as doing a brand new activity that hasn’t been completed in a while, a dramatic increase in the intensity or duration of the activity, or sometimes from actually doing too little activity. They can behave very strangely indeed.

The management plan for tendinopathy may include:

  • Biomechanical interventions such as heel wedges in the shoes
  • Activity modifications such as a change in the training program
  • Bracing for a very short period of time, such as a thumb spica for intense thumb extensor tendinopathy
  • Loading based exercises to increase the load tolerance of the tendon
  • Medications in some instances

The symptoms from tendon pathology do not typically go away quickly. In fact they may take some weeks to truly get a handle on. However, with the right diagnosis and the correctly followed management plan, tendon pain can be brought well under control, if not eliminated completely.


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