Tendon Problems

Tendons connect muscles to bones. Commonly injured tendons include the rotator cuff in the shoulder, the Achilles at the ankle, Tennis Elbow, Trochanteric (hip) pain syndrome, Jumper’s knee (Patellar tendon) and wrist tendons.

A tendon injury can happen suddenly or little by little. You are more likely to have a sudden injury if the tendon has been weakened over time. Repetitive high demand activities, either at work or in playing sport, are a common cause of tendon problems. Tendinitis, tendinosis and tendinopathy are all terms that are used to describe degenerative changes, inflammation or abnormal healing responses in tendons.

have I got a tendon injury?

Common signs of a tendon injury can include:

PAINespecially when using the tendon

STIFFNESSparticularly after resting the tendon, eg first thing in the morning

TENDERNESSwhen pushing on the tendon

GRINDINGthe feeling of grinding, often with a noise on moving the tendon

How are tendon injuries diagnosed?

If your symptoms are severe or do not improve with treatment,we recommend seeing a Sports & Exercise physician for assessment.

How are tendon injuries treated?


If a tendon ruptures completely, it is often associated with a tearing or popping sensation usually accompanied by significant pain, weakness and loss of function in the affected joint. It is best to seek medical attention early, within the first 48 hours, rather than waiting to see if it will improve in these cases.

Simple Tendon Injuries

Most tendon injuries are less severe and can be managed at home.


Avoid activities that cause pain to the affected tendon


Use cold packs or ice, 10 minutes at a time, up to twice an hour for the first 3 days after injury

Gentle Stretching

This helps prevent stiffness in affected joint and aids recovery


Simply anti-inflammatories such as Ibuprofen can be helpful

Returning to activity

Once you are better, you can gradually return to activity. The way to do this safely is to GO SLOW.

Warm up. Start with a little bit of activity and stop before you are sore.

Gentle stretching afterwards. Use ice pack after activity to prevent swelling and pain.

Gradually increase your exercise intensity and duration over the weeks of your recovery. It may take weeks or months for a tendon injury to heal. Be patient, and stay with your treatment. If you start using the injured tendon too soon, it can lead to more damage.

Avoiding reinjury

Don’t overtrain.Mix up your routine, if you have a running injury, try swimming or cycling some days.Get

Mix up your routine, if you have a running injury, try swimming or cycling some days. Get an expert assessment of your sporting technique and the equipment you are using

With workplace injuries, ACC is proactive in helping find safe ways to avoid repetitive process injuries. Talk to your OSH representative or ACC Case manager about getting some assistance.

Always take time to warm up before and stretch after you exercise.

Tendon injuries that don't improve or cause disability:

You should ask your primary health provider or physiotherapist to refer you to a Sports & Exercise Physician for expert assessment.

Assessment will include asking about your medical history and injury, as well as examining your injury. You may require investigations to diagnose the exact nature of the injury. Common investigations include ultrasound, x-rays or MRI scanning.

Common treatment options for tendon injuries that don’t settle include:

A period of complete rest in a cast or brace
Specialized exercise programs
Injection therapy
Shockwave therapy

In some cases, where all of these measures have failed, surgical treatment may be indicated.