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Collagen in tendons

Tendons act as straps in the body

The dry weight of each wall of tendons is made up of more than 95% of collagen.

The ends of tendons, which are the most solid parts, are composed almost exclusively of collagen, up to 99%. Our tendons' properties and functions are directly related to the architecture and quality of the collagen fibres.

Tendons provide an essential support in joint movement. The multiple functions of tendons include attaching muscles to bones, joining and stabilizing skeletal joints, and transmitting muscular force to bone pieces. Tendons also allow muscles to be at an optimal distance from the joint.

Therefore, tendons, together with muscles and bones, form a unique team that constantly works in synergy. The decrease of collagen with aging weakens the area where tendons are attached to the bone. This creates a more fragile area and frequently causes several injuries. For example, a common problem known as tendinitis or tendinosis is frequently associated to a lack of collagen.

In fact, it is important to make a distinction. Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons. It has frequently been considered as the cause of tendon pain and loss of force and movement. More recently, researchers have discovered that most people diagnosed with this disease have no sign of tendon inflammation. As a result, medical science has come to consider the difference between tendinitis and tendinosis. Unfortunately nowadays, even both terms are used to describe the same condition. Tendinosis is caused by a collagen disorder in the tissue of tendons and does not involve infiltration of immune cells (inflammation).

Collagen contributes to keep the structure and strength of tendons. When collagen breaks down, small tears appear in the tendon, weakening it and causing pain. Tendinitis notably affects those who perform repetitive tasks in their jobs, sports or daily activities. Another example of a disease related to tendons is bursitis. Bursitis is the swelling of the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that allows muscles to glide easily over other muscles as well as bones. When you hurt a joint or tendon or use it excessively, the bursa may swell, causing pain, redness and a burning sensation.

The regions most commonly affected by bursitis are the shoulders, elbows and hips. People who suffer from this affection will feel pain, tenderness and stiffness near the affected area.

Consequently, certain muscles weaken because the person avoids painful movements such as climbing stairs. Whether one suffers from tendinitis or bursitis, applying ice over the painful areas and letting the painful joint rest can successfully alleviate the discomfort. For chronic conditions or over the long-term, physiotherapy proves to be an important option. Anti-inflammatory drugs are indicated only after a diagnosis of tendinitis has been confirmed (infiltration of immune cells). A hydrolyzed collagen supplement can also represent an interesting nutritional support.