Tendinosis: Pathophysiology and nonoperative treatment

Christopher Kaeding, Thomas M. Best

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Tendinosis is a troublesome clinical entity affecting many active people. Its treatment remains a challenge to sports medicine clinicians. The etiopathophysiology of tendinosis has not been well delineated. The known pathophysiology and the recent advances in the understanding of the etiologic process of tendinosis are discussed here, including new concepts in mechanotransduction and the biochemical alterations that occur during tendon overload. The optimal, nonoperative treatment of tendinosis is not clear. This article reviews recent evidence of the clinical efficacy of the following interventions: eccentric exercise, extracorporal shock wave treatment, corticosteroid and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, sclerosing injections, nitric oxide, platelet-rich plasma injections, and matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors. Eccentric exercise has strongest evidence of efficacy. Extracorporal shock wave treatment has mixed evidence and needs further study of energy and application protocols. Sclerosing agents show promising early results but require long-term studies. Corticosteroid and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications have not been shown to be effective, and many basic science studies raise possible concerns with their use. Nitric oxide has been shown in several basic science studies to be promising, but clinical efficacy has not been well established. More clinical trials are needed to assess dosing, indications, and clinical efficacy of nitric oxide. Platelet-rich plasma injections have offered encouraging short-term results. Larger and longer-term clinical trials are needed to assess this promising modality. Matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors have had few clinical studies, and their role in the treatment of tendinosis is still in the early phase of investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)284-292
Number of pages9
JournalSports Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Nonoperative treatment
  • Pathology
  • Tendinopathy
  • Tendinosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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