Injuries to Tendon
Tendon injuries constitute a frequent diagnostic and therapeutic problem in sports. If these injuries are not treated well, they result in chronic and long-lasting problems.
Tendon injuries are common in sports because force is focused on the tendon as a part of the muscle unit, thereby increasing the risk of injury. A tendon can be subjected to overload (which includes a rapid increase in resistance) or overuse (which is a repetitive motion without increase in resistance).
Causes of tendon injury
• Training errors, such as sudden increase in running distance or a change in activity
• Increased frequency of training
• Running on curved trails, hard or slippery roads
• Changes of lower leg alignment, e.g. excessive foot pronation
• Exercises, such as stretching and strengthening
• Use of ice to reduce swelling and moderate pain
• Orthotic correction of malalignments
• Adequate training methods
Complete tendon rupture
Complete tendon rupture (third-degree strain) often occurs in a degenerative tendon and is especially common in older athletes who return to sport after some years’ absence from training. These ruptures afflict bandminton players in particular, and also participants in tennis, rugby, football, and runners.
Complete tendon rupture may become apparent as follows:
• Sudden ‘snap’ followed by intense pain when the injury occurs
• Unable to perform movements
• Swelling and bruising, indicating bleeding, soon after the injury
• A defect with tenderness may be felt in the tendon
Partial tendon rupture
In partial tendon rupture, the tendon is only partly torn. The affected athlete may not always be aware that a rupture has occurred, but believes the tendon to be overused and inflamed.
The tendon most frequently affected by partial rupture is the Achilles tendon, partellar tendon, rotator cuff tendons, and the adductor longus tendon.