New options in the management of tendinopathy

Open Access J Sports Med. 2010 Mar 31;1:29-37. doi: 10.2147/oajsm.s7751.


Tendon injuries can be acute or chronic, and caused by intrinsic or extrinsic factors, either alone or in combination. Tendinopathies are a common cause of disability in occupational medicine and account for a substantial proportion of overuse injuries in sports. Tendinopathy is essentially a failed healing response, with haphazard proliferation of tenocytes, abnormalities in tenocytes, with disruption of collagen fibres and subsequent increase in noncollagenous matrix. The scientific evidence base for managing tendinopathies is limited. What may appear clinically as an "acute tendinopathy" is actually a well advanced failure of a chronic healing response in which there is neither histologic nor biochemical evidence of inflammation. In this review we report the new options for the management of tendinopathy, including eccentric exercises, extracorporeal shockwave therapy, injections (intratendinous injections of corticosteroids, aprotinin, polidocanol platelet-rich plasma, autologous blood injection, high-volume injections) and surgery. Open surgery aims to excise fibrotic adhesions, remove areas of failed healing and make multiple longitudinal incisions in the tendon to detect intratendinous lesions, and to restore vascularity and possibly stimulate the remaining viable cells to initiate cell matrix response and healing. New surgical techniques aim to disrupt the abnormal neoinnervation to interfere with the pain sensation caused by tendinopathy. These procedures are intrinsically different from the classical ones in present use, because they do not attempt to address directly the pathologic lesion, but act only to denervate them. They include endoscopy, electrocoagulation, and minimally invasive stripping. Further randomized controlled trials are necessary to clarify better the best therapeutic options for the management of tendinopathy.

Keywords: injections; management; sports; surgery; tendinopathy; tendon.

Publication types

  • Review