Tendonopathies Review Physiotherapy | Sports Dissertations

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A Systematic Review of the physiotherapy management of lower limb tendonopathies

Tendonitis is a condition which is comparatively commonly seen in various clinics. The largest cohort of patients tend to have developed their condition as a result of various sports-related activities but it is acknowledged that there is a substantial cohort of RSI sufferers and occupation-related forms of tendonitis. (Kader et al 2002) In this piece we aim to review the various treatment modalities and to concentrate primarily on the eccentric muscle strengthening modalities of treatment, the rationale behind them and any evidence that they actually work. Before we can consider the direct question of eccentric loading as treatment for tendonopathies we must examine the rationale for its uses well as the basic science and theory behind the actual practice. We will do this largely by the mechanism of a literature review.


In this review we shall be examining the literature for not only the methods that are currently employed in treating the various lower limb tendonopathies but also for justification for these methods and the quality of the science behind them. We shall therefore critically review the literature available and present it in a rational form. In addition to this we intend to present an overview of various factors in a wider picture that are relevant to our considerations. We shall consider the current views on the pathophysiology of tendonitis and the experimental evidence on the response of the tendon to exercise in general terms. Although it is accepted that the majority of patients currently seen in clinical practice with various forms of lower limb tendonitis are suffering from a sports related injury, we shall also look at the effects of ageing on tendon physiology as it is acknowledged that the elderly are another highly represented group with tendonitis. We conclude the preamble with a number of clinical considerations, most prominently the difficulties posed by the differences in nomenclature and terminology which renders both assessments and comparisons between clinical trials difficult. We conclude the dissertation with a review of various currently employed treatment modalities and the rationale behind them. We focus specifically on the use and place of eccentric muscle strengthening exercises in the spectrum of rational treatments..

Pathophysiology of tendonitis

At the macro-anatomical level, the tendon is usually easily defined as a semi-rigid white or grey structure, generally found in close proximity to synovial joints. One of its prime functions is to transmit forces generated by muscles to the skeletal system, often inducing movement. (Huxley HE 1979). At the micro-anatomical level, it’s structure is very much more complex and requires a detailed examination before we can realistically and meaningfully consider the issues relating to the therapy of tendonitis. Tendons form part of the anatomical structures that are functionally grouped together as the extracellular matrix (ECM). The rate of turnover – both synthesis and degradation – is influenced by a number of different factors including metabolic and disease related factors,

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