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Six Common Signs of Tendon Damage

Six Common Signs of Tendon Damage

Your musculoskeletal system is complex, to say the least, and involves a host of hard and soft tissues that all work together to provide you with support, mobility, and range of motion. Integral to these objectives are your tendons, which are the tough connective tissues that attach your muscles to your bones. 

When you incur damage in your tendons, you’re met with a range of symptoms, six of which Dr. William Schell and our team discuss here.

Types of tendon damage

When we talk about tendon damage, we’re referring to four main types, including:


This is a condition in which your tendon is inflamed. In most cases, tendonitis develops because of wear and tear or due to overuse of a certain tendon.


If your tendon has microscopic tears that lead to pain and inflammation, this is called tendinosis.

Partial tear

As the name implies, a partial tear is one that only involves a portion of the tendon. This type of tear is much larger than the tiny tears associated with tendinosis.

Complete rupture

Also called a full-thickness tear, this describes a tendon that has completely separated from the bone.

The severity and range of your symptoms depends upon which type of tendon damage you’ve incurred.

Signs of tendon damage

To help you better recognize when you may have tendon damage, the following are six of the more common signs:

1. Pain

The most obvious sign that something is amiss with your tendon is pain, which can range from occasional and mild to severe and constant, depending upon the extent of the damage.

2. Swelling

You may also experience swelling in the area of your damaged tendon, which is your body’s way of creating a protective environment to heal and prevent further damage.

3. Stiffness

The inflammation that often comes with tendinopathies can lead to stiffness, especially after your tendon has been at rest for a bit.

4. Tenderness

You may also experience tenderness in the area of the damage, which means the tendon is sensitive to touch or pressure.

5. Heat

Another common symptom of tendon damage is heat that develops around the injury, and it’s a warmth you can feel to the touch.

6. Loss of use

This last symptom is one that often accompanies complete tendon tears. For example, if you’ve fully ruptured your patellar tendon, you may lose considerable knee function as it gives way when you walk. As another example, with a complete rotator cuff tear, you may find it difficult to raise or rotate your arm.

Whether you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it’s important that you come see us sooner rather than later. Early intervention for tendon damage is critical, as tendonitis or tendonosis can make you more vulnerable to full or partial tears.

It’s hard to say here what your treatment may look like, as it depends on what Dr. Schell diagnoses, but identifying a problem is a critical first step in relieving your symptoms and restoring function to your damaged tendon.

If you suspect you have tendon damage, contact the New York City office of William Schell, MD. We’re located in Columbus Circle on the Upper West Side.

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