Tendonitis or Trigger Points - What's the difference?

Trigger Points or Tendonitis? Learn to tell the difference

trigger point

Trigger points occur in muscles, tendonitis occurs in tendons. But they’re two very closely related structures, and often the causes and symptoms overlap.

Firstly – what is a tendon? Simply put, your tendon is a strong, beautiful, glistening white fibrous structure that connects your muscles to your bones. they are made up of collagen. This is a long and complex molecule which is arranged in the shape of the spiral or a spring. This means that it has an intrinsic elasticity which is a necessary to smooth out movement. They’re essential parts of the complex mechanics of your body movement.

But like all structures in your body, they can have problems – they have a relatively poor blood supply which makes then vulnerable to injury. This can result in the only warning mechanism your body has: pain.

Pain coming from your tendons is very common.

Some of the household names for this condition include tennis elbow, weeder’s thumb, golfer’s elbow, runner’s knee, and of course Achilles’ heel.

Literally, tendonitis means inflammation of a tendon. This is actually an incorrect term because most studies show there is little or no inflammation in damaged tendons.

What has been found is degeneration in the tendon and this is called a tendonosis. And this is where trigger points come into the equation. A tendon can be damaged by many things, but one of them is tight muscles.

Trigger points cause muscles to have these tight bands that don’t stretch properly. And these tight bands of muscle can cause or prolong tendonitis.

Quite often the pain of triggers refers down to where the tendon is. This means that you may be wrongly diagnosed with tendonitis, when in fact you have trigger points. On the other hand, you may have a damaged tendon, but trigger points are contributing to the pain in the area.

And often pain = tension, which results in more myofascial triggers. They two conditions can contribute to each other, so treating them both together makes sense. You can certainly treat triggers proactively, but often damaged tendons simply need rest.

So when you have a diagnosis of tendonitis, check out whether there are trigger points in the muscles attached to the tendons. Treating these may help the tendon pain.

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(2) comments

Ken Zelez June 28, 2010

This is some of the best information I have found on Trigger Points anywhere. Thank you.

    Jonathan July 11, 2010

    hi Ken

    This was my pleasure thank you.

    Kind regards

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