Enthesopathy: What’s That?

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If you’re having troubles with your joints and feel unpleasant pain in them from time to time, your doctor might tell you about the enthesopathy. Don’t panic right away! Being informed is the best way to deal with a medical condition, which is why it’s better to learn as much as possible about it. So, if you’re wondering “What is enthesopathy?”, keep reading, and you’ll find out the enthesopathies definition, symptoms, and treatment options.

What Is It?

Enthesopathy is a health condition that affects ligaments and tendons, more precisely – the areas where they are attached to the bones. These areas are called entheses, and when they become inflamed and painful, this illness is called enthesopathy.

Enthesopathy can be a rather annoying thing. It might turn even the simplest movements into a challenge. For example, when you have ankle enthesopathy, it will hurt you whenever you engage in physical activity or put even a slight pressure on your foot. Severe cases of degenerative enthesopathy (the one that constantly progresses) can even make walking close to impossible.

Symptoms

The most common and easy to notice symptom is the pain. Enthesopathy causes pain in joints and areas around them when you try to use that joint (move a body part). It can also be tender and hurt when you touch it.

Another symptom is the joint stiffness. It occurs most frequently after sleep or after being inactive for a long period of time (for example, after sitting in front of your computer for a couple of hours).

Swollen joint areas should also be a signal for you. Also, when you can’t move a joint in its usual direction, that means something is wrong. And pay attention to your body: when you feel like your joint is grating when you move it, that could mean enthesopathy.

Pain levels differ and depend on the degree of this medical condition.  Sometimes the pain is almost unnoticeable; in other cases, it can obstruct your movements and not let you do even the simplest everyday tasks.

Why It Happens

There is a number of things that can cause enthesopathy. Some of them you can omit, others are beyond your control. But it’s important to know about them if you want to understand this condition better.

So, the main enthesopathy triggers are:

  • Injuries. It can be a rough fall or even a micro trauma in the area of the joint.
  • Genetics. Some genes in our bodies can make certain people more susceptible to frequent injuries, traumas in specific areas, and illnesses (for example, arthritis, which leads to enthesopathy).
  • Joint overuse. Too frequent or too intensive joint usage can cause its ligaments to inflame (for example, intensive running or playing tennis for a long period of time).
  • Autoimmune illnesses and various inflammatory medical conditions can also lead to enthesopathy.

Generally, enthesopathy can appear in any joint area, but the most common spots are knees, elbows, heels, hips, toes, backbone, and fingers.

There’s no effective way to prevent enthesopathy as it usually happens unexpectedly. Of course, you should always be careful to avoid traumas, even the light ones, as they can lead to joint damage. It’s also a good idea to wear supportive bandages during intensive physical activities.

How to Treat

Physical therapy is the most common (and effective) way to treat enthesopathy. It can help patients reduce pressure, stiffness, and pain in the joints and the areas around them. It also contributes to relaxing and strengthening muscles and makes patients use their joints without causing more pain.

Medication helps you manage the discomfort, reduce the pain, and fight the inflammation. Patients with enthesopathy are usually prescribed arthritis drugs or anti-inflammatory meds. Keep in mind that, in most cases, simply taking medicine isn’t enough – you will need to combine it with physical therapy.

Orthotic devices can’t really be considered as a treatment, but they are capable of making your condition better. First of all, they help patients reduce pain in some body parts. For example, using a special shoe insert can help you deal with your heel pain and make everyday tasks like walking less painful. Second of all, such devices are meant to avert new injuries in the future. They support the joints and the muscles around them.

Changing your lifestyle and everyday habits might also help you feel better. For example, avoiding intense physical activities will make your joints more relaxed and less painful. Depending on the severity of your enthesopathy, you may have to forget about running and weight lifting exercises.

There are other ways to treat this medical condition, to reduce pain, and to make your joints more flexible. Massaging the muscles and the affected area is rather effective. You can also try applying hot or cold compresses to reduce the inflammation levels and relax the joints and the muscles. And don’t forget about a more high-tech method – cold laser therapy – which also helps patients reduce pain and inflammation.

Being diagnosed with enthesopathy isn’t the end of the world. So, don’t panic and use everything you’ve just read to prepare yourself. With this info in mind, you will know how to deal with this condition and how to stay healthy for as long as possible.

References:

  • Lhee, Sang-Hoon, and Anant Kumar Singh. “Capsular enthesopathy of glenohumeral joint.” Saudi Journal of Sports Medicine 16.2 (2016): 150.
  • Hassan, Amal A., et al. “Value of musculoskeletal ultrasonography in the diagnosis of peripheral enthesopathy in early spondyloarthropathy.” Egyptian Rheumatology and Rehabilitation41.2 (2014): 51.
  • Baraka, E. A., and W. A. Hassan. “Musculoskeletal ultrasonographic evaluation of lower limb enthesopathy in ankylosing spondylitis and Behçet’s disease: Relation to clinical status and disease activity.” Egyptian Rheumatology and Rehabilitation 43.3 (2016): 108.

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