Tendons are densely packed tissues which are a continuation of muscle connecting muscle to bone. Tendons are well adapted to transmitting forces and resisting high forces. Damage to a tendon is termed a tendinopathy or tendinitis. Any tendon can be affected Common areas of tendinopathy in dogs include shoulders, tarsus (ankles), carpus (wrists) and iliopsoas (groin muscle).
Cause of Tendinopathy
Damage to a tendon can be due to an acute abrupt injury but is more likely secondary to a process of chronic weakening of the tissue.
This weakening means the tendon has to endure more forces over time than it is capable of handling. This eventually leads to inflammation and injury.
Causes of longterm strain include: congenital musculoskeletal problems, overuse due to a repeated activity, other metabolic diseases which cause weakening of the tissue and damage to another part of the body leading to overcompensation by the affected tendon.
Signs of Tendinopathy
Dogs will experience pain or lameness usually made worse by exercise.
A tendinopathy would be suspected if your dog has a longstanding lameness that does not seem to be resolving. You may have had xrays and they revealed nothing. Palpation by an experienced trained musculoskeletal practitioner may help localise the problem.
Xrays are not the first choice for locating tendonitis. Musculoskeletal ultrasound, CT or MRI are generally used to confirm the diagnosis.
The vast majority of tendon injuries can be treated conservatively. This can include anti-inflammatory medication, laser therapy, shockwave therapy, manual therapies, pulsed electromagnetic therapy, home exercise and a staged gradual return to exercise and full function. Some dogs with tendon injury may be candidates for braces or orthotics while healing takes place.
Some tendon injuries are so severe they require surgery. The importance of the correct rehabilitation program following surgery cannot be underestimated.
Stem cells and Platelet Rich Plasma therapies are gaining traction as a likely effective therapy in tendon injuries in dogs and cats.
Conservative treatments offered by Balance Vet Rehab that may be beneficial for these pets include:
PULSED ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD THERAPY OF PERSISTENT ROTATOR CUFF TENDINITIS: A Double-blind Controlled Assessment AllanBinder et al
Animal Biomechanical Medicine
Acupuncture for chronic achilles tendinopathy: A randomized controlled study Bi-meng Zhang et al
Shockwave (COMING SOON)
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy and therapeutic exercise for supraspinatus and biceps tendinopathies in 29 dogs. J. Leeman et al