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Revisiting the continuum model of tendon pathology: what is its merit in clinical practice and research?
  1. J L Cook1,2,
  2. E Rio1,2,
  3. C R Purdam2,3,
  4. S I Docking1,2
  1. 1School of Allied Health, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia
  2. 2Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention, Federation University
  3. 3Department of Physical Therapies, Australian Institute of Sport, Bruce, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr JL Cook, School of Allied Health, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia; J.Cook{at}


The pathogenesis of tendinopathy and the primary biological change in the tendon that precipitates pathology have generated several pathoaetiological models in the literature. The continuum model of tendon pathology, proposed in 2009, synthesised clinical and laboratory-based research to guide treatment choices for the clinical presentations of tendinopathy. While the continuum has been cited extensively in the literature, its clinical utility has yet to be fully elucidated. The continuum model proposed a model for staging tendinopathy based on the changes and distribution of disorganisation within the tendon. However, classifying tendinopathy based on structure in what is primarily a pain condition has been challenged. The interplay between structure, pain and function is not yet fully understood, which has partly contributed to the complex clinical picture of tendinopathy. Here we revisit and assess the merit of the continuum model in the context of new evidence. We (1) summarise new evidence in tendinopathy research in the context of the continuum, (2) discuss tendon pain and the relevance of a model based on structure and (3) describe relevant clinical elements (pain, function and structure) to begin to build a better understanding of the condition. Our goal is that the continuum model may help guide targeted treatments and improved patient outcomes.

  • Tendon

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