Tendinosis Vs Tendonitis: Know the Differences

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Tendinosis vs Tendonitis, both involve pain and affect tendons, they're distinct foes. Tendinitis, with its "-itis" ending, signifies inflammation caused by sudden overexertion or injury. Think sharp pain and swelling. On the other hand, Tendinosis, ending in "-osis," indicates degeneration from chronic overuse or incomplete healing. Imagine dull pain and stiffness. Tendinosis Vs Tendonitis - Understanding the enemy determines the battle plan for healing! 


  • Tendinosis is a breakdown of the collagen fibers within a tendon, often caused by overuse or repetitive stress.
  • Unlike Tendonitis, which tends to be acute, Tendinosis causes chronic pain that can linger for months or even years.
  • As the tendon weakens, it can restrict movement in the affected joint.
  • Treatment focuses on managing pain and preventing further damage, often involving physical therapy, activity modification, and pain relievers.


  • Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon, often caused by a sudden injury or overuse.
  • Tendonitis typically causes intense, localised pain that appears soon after the injury.
  • The afflicted region may feel sensitive to the touch and swollen.
  • Treatment tries to reduce inflammation and improve healing, and may include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medicines, and physical therapy.

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Difference Between Tendinosis and Tendonitis

Tendinosis and tendonitis are both conditions that affect tendons, which are the fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones. While they share similarities, they also have distinct differences in terms of etiology, pathology, and treatment. Outlined are differences between tendinosis and tendonitis:





Chronic overuse, degeneration

Acute overuse, injury, repetitive motions


Little to none



Degenerative changes, collagen disorganization

Inflammatory cells infiltration




Pain Presentation

Diffuse, chronic, worsens with activity

Localized, acute, worsens with movement

Healing Time


May resolve more quickly

Imaging Findings

Tendon thickening, intratendinous changes

Tendon swelling, fluid accumulation

Treatment Approach

Promote healing, strengthening

Rest, anti-inflammatory, corticosteroids

Risk Factors

Age-related degeneration

Sudden increases in activity, poor biomechanics


More chronic

May resolve more quickly

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What is Tendinosis?

Tendinitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed, usually due to sudden overuse or injury. Think of it as a temporary swelling. Symptoms include pain, tenderness, and sometimes redness. Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication often help with recovery.

Key Features of Tendinosis:

  • Tendinosis is defined by the degradation and disorganisation of collagen fibres inside the tendon, rather than inflammation. Microtears and overuse are common causes of tendons becoming weaker and thickened.
  • Tendinosis pain usually develops gradually over time and can be obstinate and persistent, characterised as a dull aching or stiffness.
  • While X-rays may seem normal, ultrasonography or MRI may reveal thickness, disorganisation, and potential regions of aberrant signal inside the tendon.
  • Rest, activity moderation, physical therapy, and, if necessary, injections or shockwave treatment are used to aid healing and strengthen the tendon.

What is Tendonitis?

Tendinosis is a breakdown of the tendon itself. Chronic usage causes tiny rips and disorganised collagen fibres, which progress over time. This makes the tendon weaker and more susceptible to discomfort, stiffness, and burning sensations. As complete healing is unlikely, treatment frequently focuses on strengthening the surrounding muscles and minimising discomfort.

Key Features of Tendonitis:

  • Tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon sheath, the protective tissue that surrounds the tendon. This inflammation is frequently caused by acute overuse or injury.
  • Tendonitis pain usually strikes suddenly and is severe and limited to the afflicted region.
  • X-rays are often unremarkable, however ultrasonography or MRI may reveal inflammation and thickness of the tendon sheath.
  • To decrease inflammation and promote healing, treatment includes rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy.

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Similarities Between Tendinosis and Tendonitis

  • Tendinosis and tendonitis affect the tendons, which are fibrous structures that link muscles to bones.
  • Both disorders can affect tendons across the body, including the Achilles, rotator cuff, elbow, wrist, knee, and hip.
  • Both disorders can cause symptoms such as pain, stiffness, weakness, and reduced range of motion, albeit the severity and duration differ.
  • Repetitive motions, overuse, poor biomechanics, ageing, and certain medical disorders such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis all increase the risk of tendinosis and tendonitis.
  • Preventive techniques like correct warm-up, stretching, moderate increases in activity, and keeping excellent posture and body mechanics can all help lower the incidence of tendinosis and tendonitis.

Tendinosis and tendonitis are both painful consequences of a strained tendon, but their causes and progression are vastly different. Tendonitis, denoted by the suffix "itis," is inflammation that commonly results from acute overuse or injury. Think about a weekend warrior's painful elbow. Tendinosis, with its ("osis” is related to degeneration) ending, denotes degeneration, a chronic disorder caused by repeated microtears that are not allowed to heal. Consider the aching shoulder of a painter who is continuously painting overhead. Tendonitis treatment focuses on rest and anti-inflammatory methods, but Tendinosis treatment generally includes strengthening exercises and collagen-boosting tactics. Consult a healthcare expert for a precise diagnosis, since mistaking one for the other might result in poor therapy and prolonged suffering. Remember, Tendinosis vs. Tendonitis: Understanding the difference leads the way to recovery.

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What is the difference between tendinosis and tendonitis?

Tendinosis refers to chronic degeneration of the tendon without significant inflammation, while tendonitis involves acute inflammation of the tendon due to overuse or injury.

How do tendinosis and tendonitis manifest differently?

Tendinosis typically presents with gradual onset of pain and stiffness, whereas tendonitis often involves sudden, sharp pain accompanied by inflammation and swelling.

What are the similarities between tendinosis and tendonitis?

Both conditions involve damage to the tendon, often caused by repetitive stress or overuse activities.

What are the risk factors for developing tendinosis or tendonitis?

Risk factors include age, overuse of a specific tendon, poor biomechanics, improper equipment use, and certain medical conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis.

How are tendinosis and tendonitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination, medical history review, imaging studies (such as ultrasound or MRI), and sometimes, biopsy to differentiate between tendinosis and tendonitis.

What are the common treatment options for tendinosis and tendonitis?

Treatment may include rest, ice, physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroid injections, extracorporeal shockwave therapy, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, and in severe cases, surgery.