Tendinopathy and Tenosynovitis - Diagnosis

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.

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Dr Jacqueline Payne
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
4579 (v42)
Last Checked:
02 June 2016
Next Review:
02 June 2019

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.