Tendon injury - the basics

Tendons connect muscles to bone, and are highly resistant to mechanical loads. Tendons are capable of transferring, distributing and regulating forces exerted by muscles to the connected structures. The function of tendons are two-fold, to maintain posture, and generate movement. Tendons are not easily torn and have a high tensile strength to be able to withstand the forces generated by the muscular system. Tendons also have an important role in stabilise joints when in motion.

Up to 46% of musculoskeletal injuries are reported as tendon injuries, however, due to the lack of sufficient cells and growth factors, tendon healing is slow, and can be poor. Tendon injuries affect as many as 1 in every 10 people, and 1 in every two runners are affected by Achilles tendinopathy.

Acute tendon injury tends to occur due to sudden or repetitive overload where tears appear in the tendon. Chronic tendon injury, or tendinopathy is still not fully understood, but is thought to be down to degenerative disease, or a failure of the healing process and is non-inflammatory. Unfortunately, studies show the healing of tendon tissue is only 70% to that of the pre-injured tendon, which makes re-injury a distinct possibility.

Li, Z.J., et al.(2021) Basic research on tendon repair: Strategies, evaluations, and development. Front.Med.