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Tendonitis versus Tendinopathy

Posted on March 19, 2024 in Workers' Compensation

Tendonitis and tendinopathy are two medical conditions that affect the tendons, or the tissues that connect the muscles to the bones. Tendonitis is inflammation of the tendon, while tendinopathy refers to a breakdown of collagen protein in a tendon. While most people are more familiar with the term tendonitis, research suggests that tendinopathy is more common. 

What Are the Key Differences Between Tendonitis and Tendinopathy?

Tendonitis and tendinopathy are often confused or used interchangeably because they have almost identical symptoms. However, they are two different medical conditions affecting the tendons. The tendon is a strong, fibrous band of tissue that contains collagen protein. When this protein deteriorates or degenerates, it is known as tendinopathy (also sometimes referred to as tendinosis).

 Tendonitis, on the other hand, is inflammation of the tendon. It is a more minor medical condition with a recovery rate of around 99 percent, compared to an estimated 80 percent of tendinopathy cases that achieve complete recovery. While tendonitis and tendinopathy can affect the tendons anywhere in the body, the most common places are the Achilles tendon, rotator cuff tendon, patellar tendon and hamstring tendons.

 Tendinopathy typically takes longer to treat and heal (several months, in some cases) than tendonitis, which has a recovery time of a few days for acute cases to four to six weeks for chronic cases. Both conditions may be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, rest, physical therapy and strengthening exercises. In severe cases, tendonitis and tendinopathy may both be treated with surgery.

What Are the Symptoms of Tendonitis and Tendinopathy?

 Tendinopathy can include both inflammatory and noninflammatory tendon conditions, while tendonitis specifically refers to inflammation. However, both conditions can have the same symptoms:

  • Pain or tenderness 
  • Pain that worsens with movement or activity
  • Warmth in the area
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness 
  • Loss of function or mobility

One of the only differences in symptoms between these two conditions is that the pain associated with tendinopathy may be more consistent and difficult to treat than with tendonitis.

What Causes Tendonitis and Tendinopathy?

Conditions of the tendon are often caused by repetitive motion and strain injuries. Sudden stress or chronic overuse of a tendon can eventually cause damage (tendonitis) or changes to its structure (tendinopathy). Aging, injury, and wear and tear on the tendon can also cause these conditions. 

Tendinopathy is more often connected to high-intensity activities, such as sports, than tendonitis, and can be caused by multiple strain injuries that are not given enough time to heal. It is possible for a patient to have both conditions simultaneously. It is believed by doctors that tendinopathy can eventually result in tendonitis.

Seeking Workers’ Compensation for Tendonitis and Tendinopathy

Tendonitis and tendinopathy are both common work injuries. They can affect workers in California who have jobs that involve repetitive motion or high-intensity activities, such as assembly line workers, textile workers, Amazon warehouse workers, construction workers and athletes. 

Affected individuals may be eligible for multiple types of workers’ compensation for these tendon conditions, such as: 

  • Past and future medical costs
  • Surgery 
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Prescription medications
  • Partial (around two-thirds) wage reimbursement
  • Future lost capacity to earn
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Temporary or permanent disability

Workers’ comp is available not only to victims of unexpected accidents but also to those affected by the daily requirements of a job, including repetitive motion or stress that injures tendons. If you have been diagnosed with tendonitis or tendinopathy and believe your job caused its development, discuss your right to recover damages with a Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorney at Rose, Klein & Marias LLP. We offer free case consultations.