Overuse tendon conditions: time to change a confusing terminology

Arthroscopy. 1998 Nov-Dec;14(8):840-3. doi: 10.1016/s0749-8063(98)70021-0.


In overuse clinical conditions in and around tendons, frank inflammation is infrequent, and is associated mostly with tendon ruptures. Tendinosis implies tendon degeneration without clinical or histological signs of intratendinous inflammation, and is not necessarily symptomatic. Patients undergoing an operation for Achilles tendinopathy show similar areas of degeneration. When the term tendinitis is used in a clinical context, it does not refer to a specific histopathological entity. However, tendinitis is commonly used for conditions that are truly tendinoses, and this leads athletes and coaches to underestimate the proven chronicity of the condition. Paratenonitis is characterized by acute edema and hypermia of the paratenon, with infiltration of inflammatory cells, possibly with production of a fibrinous exudate that fills the tendon sheath, causing the typical crepitus that can be felt on clinical examination. The term partial tear of a tendon should describe a macroscopically evident subcutaneous partial tear of a tendon, an uncommon acute lesion. Most articles describing the surgical treatment of 'partial tears' of a given tendon in reality deal with degenerative tendinopathies. The combination of pain, swelling, and impaired performance should be labeled tendinopathy. According to the tissues affected, the terms tendinopathy, paratendinopathy, or pantendinopathy should be used.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Tendinopathy / pathology*
  • Tendons / pathology*
  • Terminology as Topic*