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Tendon Tears

Tendons are the soft, band-like tissues that connect muscles to bone. When the muscles contract, the tendons pull the bones and cause the joints to move.

A tendon tear commonly refers to tiny tears in the tissue in and around the tendon caused by a muscle's inability to optimally absorb shock, load and/or force. They can occur in almost any area of the body where a tendon connects a bone to a muscle. The most common places are:

  • Ankle
  • Elbow
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Base of thumb

While tendon tears seem to happen suddenly, they’re usually a result of many tiny tears to the tendon that have happened over time usually due to overuse or being overstretched.

Tendon Tear Symptoms

When tendon damage occurs, movement may be seriously limited. Typical symptoms of tendon tears include:

  • A snap or pop at the affected area
  • Severe and excruciating pain
  • Immediate bruising
  • Pain and discomfort that worsens with tendon use
  • A “crunchy” sound or feeling (crepitus) with tendon use
  • Severe weakness
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Inability to bear weight, especially in Achilles Tendon Tear
  • Increased pain and stiffness at night or early morning
  • Inflammation with tenderness, redness and feeling of warmth

Tendon Tear Risk Factors

Anyone can get tendon tears, but they’re more common in adults, especially those over 40 years old. As tendons age, they tolerate less stress, are less elastic and are easier to tear. Others at risk include anyone involved with heavy lifting and other manual labor. Tendon tears in the elderly are often caused by a medical condition, like gout or a thyroid disorder.

In younger generations, tendon tears usually occur due to trauma as a result of sports, an accident or a motorbike crash. Excessive use of steroids also makes tendons weak and can result in tendon tears.

Treatment of Tendon Tears

Treatment depends on individual pain thresholds and tissue repair rates, as well as the extent of the damage. They can range from daily range-of-motion exercises to surgery in order to repair tissues. Make an appointment with a Summa orthopedic specialist who can diagnose your injury and recommend the appropriate treatment plan.

Summa Foot and Ankle Specialist

Jeffrey Junko, M.D.


Options to Request an Appointment

If your situation is an emergency, call 911.