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What is Tendinopathy?

Tendinopathy (also known as tendinitis) is the most common tendon disorder. It is caused by overuse of a tendon due to excessive weight load or repetitive movements [1] and can be treated using cold laser therapy. Advancing age, genetic factors, infections, arthritis and metabolic diseases can weaken the tendons and make them more susceptible for tendinitis[2, 3]. Two well-known syndromes of tendinopathy are the “tennis elbow”, the “carpal tunnel syndrome” or the “jumper’s knee”, both caused by strongly repetitive movement patterns.

The mechanism of the disorder is not fully understood [4]. However, the cells in the affected tendon suffer from oxidative stress and react with an inflammatory response, which leads to a change of its structural organisation [5].

 

Symptoms

The main symptom that arises from this inflammatory process is chronic activity-related pain which brings along many limitations in daily tasks and activities.
An ultimate complication of this condition can be the rupture of the affected tendon.

 

Far reaching consequences 

In addition to physical complications, the condition also brings along economic implications. One in five GP consultations involve a patient with chronic pain. Back pain and other musculoskeletal problems make up 7.7% of the disease burden in Australia [6]; pain related expenses (including health care, lost productivity, and forced retirement) cost Australians more than $34 billion annually [7].

 

Treatment options

Tendinopathy is mainly treated by restraining from the repetitive movements which caused the strain as well as the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Both options offer mainly symptomatic relief without targeting the core of the problem.

 

Cold Laser Therapy

As an alternative treatment option, Cold Laser Therapy reduces oxidative stress and inflammation on a cellular level. The mechanism it uses is called photobiomodulation. It allows the affected tendon to recover from the inside out and makes it more resistant against any future strain of repetitive use. It also increases resilience of the tissue to help prevent further inflammation. Cold laser works to get the cell producing more ATP energy which in turn helps the body heal. The research continues to grow in favour of using low level laser therapy versus drugs, surgery and other interventions and the breadth of application is increasing to include neurological disorders, wound healing and even Parkinson’s and Alzheimers.

 

References

  1. Docking, S., et al., Prevalence and impact of achilles and patellar tendinopathy in the Australian Football League:. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2017. 20(1): p. 111.
  2. Harvie, P., et al., Genetic influences in the aetiology of tears of the rotator cuff. Sibling risk of a full-thickness tear. The Journal of bone and joint surgery, 2004. 86(5): p. 696-700.
  3. Xu, Y. and G.A.C. Murrell, The Basic Science of Tendinopathy. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 2008. 466(7): p. 1528-38.
  4. Riley, G., The pathogenesis of tendinopathy. A molecular perspective. Rheumatology, 2003. 43(2): p. 131-142.
  5. Wilson, J.J. and T.M. Best, Common Overuse Tendon Problems: A Review and Recommendations for Treatment. American Family Physician, 2005. 72(5): p. 811-818.
  6. Painaustralia. RELIEVING AUSTRALIA’S PAIN BURDEN. 2018 [cited 2018 10.12.2078]; Available from: https://www.painaustralia.org.au/media/newsletters/issue-76/relieving-australias-pain-burden.
  7. Painaustralia. Painful Facts. 2018 [cited 2018 12.12.2018]; Available from: https://www.painaustralia.org.au/about-pain/painful-facts.