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Tendinitis vs Tendinosis: These Are the Differences

Many people outside of the medical field do not know the difference between Tendinitis and Tendinosis. After all, they sound similar, and are located in the same part of the body, right? 

Vocabulary or Suffixes

“-itis” – – this means inflammation

“-osis” – – this means diseased or abnormal

The Main Difference

According to the medical community, the main difference between Tendinitis and Tendinosis is time. One may last longer than the other, as well as having different healing procedures. 

Tendinitis – This is an acute, short-term, and sudden issue with inflammation at its core. This sudden pain is brought on by an injury to a tendon. The area is often red, swollen, and extremely warm to the touch as well as painful. If looked at under a microscope, the cells would be inflamed. 

Tendinosis – This is a persistent or chronic illness, that can also be recurring, but not long-lasting. This is a condition that can be from a repetitive movement or trauma that won’t heal. It does involve inflammation of the cells, but rather micro-tears in the tendon. 

Most Common Areas for Both Conditions

Tennis Elbow – or lateral epicondylitis is a form of Tendinosis, not only found in tennis athletes but those who perform a repetitive movement. It is located in the extensor tendons connecting the muscles of the forearm to the outside of the elbow. 

Rotator Cuff – this is where the tendons of the shoulder connect. It’s been described as a ball-and-socket type joint and is used as part of everyday motion.   

Achilles Tendon – this is also known as the calcaneal tendon and it connects the heel bone to the calf muscles. This is another area that is used every day, nearly all day long and when it is injured it is Tendinosis. Bone spurs located on the heel can also be a contributing factor to this type of injury.  

Jumper’s Knee – this is also referred to as patellar tendinosis. This tendon begins at the kneecap or patella and travels down the front of the knee to the shin bone or tibial tubercle. This type of injury is mostly found among athletes. 

Treatments

The treatment for these conditions is also based on if there is degeneration or inflammation. 

Tendinitis treatment – this includes plenty of rest, avoiding the repetitive motion that caused the issue in the first place, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, and perhaps a brace to immobilize the area for short periods of time. 

Tendinosis treatment – this would include a regimen of physical therapy. This will include stretching and strengthening the muscles and tendons surrounding the injury.  

There are also treatments that include steroid injections, as well as PRP, platelet-rich plasma. This is taken from your own blood to help stimulate healing. 

Remember that the difference can be subtle at first. Always ask your doctor to spell out, in detail, which type of injury you are experiencing and what course of treatment will be best. Not all treatments are best for each individual. Be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendation to the letter in order to heal faster and to aid in relieving your pain.

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