Tendinopathy treatment: where is the evidence?

Clin Sports Med. 2012 Apr;31(2):329-50. doi: 10.1016/j.csm.2011.11.003.


Tendinopathy is a common and debilitating condition that results in significant deficits in performance and prolonged time away from activity. For this reason, much effort has been placed in defining beneficial and cost-effective treatments. This review has outlined the current literature on some of the most widely used therapies for cases of tendinopathy. As such, recommendations remain limited by the evidence available. The variability in both quantity and quality of research into tendinopathy treatments makes it difficult to make definitive treatment recommendations. In general, however, a reasonable first line of treatment for tendinopathy should include a course of NSAIDs and eccentric exercise-based physical therapy. Corticosteroid injections seem to offer excellent short-term pain relief but lack long term efficacy. Alternative injections, such as PRP, have shown short-term efficacy for tendinopathy sufferers; data are lacking to support sclerosing agents and proteinase inhibitors. Operative management seems to offer some benefit in symptomatic relief but carries a higher complication rate than other treatment options and should be reserved only for patients recalcitrant to other more conservative options. Although the inability to make definitive therapeutic recommendations in some instances is discouraging, it is important to note that a lack of high-quality evidence supporting specific treatments does not necessarily imply that they are inherently ineffective. Given the growing prevalence of tendinopathy and the impact it has on the general public, it is more important now than ever to continue the search for the most effective and accessible treatment modalities.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / etiology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pain Management
  • Prevalence
  • Running / injuries*
  • Tendinopathy / epidemiology
  • Tendinopathy / etiology
  • Tendinopathy / therapy*
  • United States / epidemiology