How is tendinopathy or tenosynovitis diagnosed?
As well as listening to you describe your symptoms, your doctor will need to examine you to diagnose either tendinopathy or tenosynovitis.
Tendinopathy may make the tendon thicker than normal and often makes it tender, especially when the doctor asks you to use the muscle of the affected tendon while they feel over it. For example, feeling the tendon at the back of your ankle while asking you to point your foot to the floor. Other tests might involve pressing on the muscle of the affected tendon slightly away from the affected area and asking you to contract the muscle. Pressing on the muscle in this way can take some of the tension away from the tendon and the activity can be less painful than it would be otherwise. For example pressing on the forearm muscles while asking you to cock your wrist up in the case of tennis elbow.
Tenosynovitis may make the affected area feel slightly swollen. There can be a grating sensation when you feel the affected area and move the affected tendon at the same time - it can feel like there is sandpaper under the skin or bubble wrap.
Do I need any tests?
Usually not. The diagnosis of tenosynovitis and tendinopathy can usually be made when your doctor talks to you and examines the affected area. If an infection is the suspected cause (rare) then blood tests and other tests may be done to find the cause of the infection. Sometimes, if the diagnosis is uncertain, your doctor may suggest an X-ray, an ultrasound scan or an MRI scan of the affected area but this is usually to make sure it isn't something more serious.
Did you find this information useful?
- Andres BM, Murrell GA; Treatment of tendinopathy: what works, what does not, and what is on the horizon. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2008 Jul 466(7):1539-54. Epub 2008 Apr 30.
- Childress MA, Beutler A; Management of chronic tendon injuries. Am Fam Physician. 2013 Apr 1 87(7):486-90.
- Extracorporeal shockwave therapy for refractory tennis elbow; NICE Interventional Procedure Guidance, August 2009
- Autologous blood injection for tendinopathy; NICE Interventional Procedure Guidance, January 2013
- van Tulder M, Malmivaara A, Koes B; Repetitive strain injury. Lancet. 2007 May 26 369(9575):1815-22.
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