Enthesopathy is disease of the ligaments, muscles, and capsules that attach to bones and joints. A number of diseases including spondyloarthropathy and tendinitis are examples of enthesopathy. Treatments are available and the best approach will depend on the type of condition, the location, and the cause. Doctors can work with patients on learning more about the disease and developing the most appropriate treatment plan.
Usually, the disease takes the form of chronic inflammation. The tissue swells and becomes tender, and may not function as well. It can also start to break down as the body attacks it and the tissue becomes stretched and strained. People can develop inflammation because of injury, chronic stress, or autoimmune disease. Usually, the affected area becomes stiff and sore, and may not function as well. Patients can also experience pain, heat, and tenderness.
In a patient with enthesopathy, the doctor's first step will involve a physical examination and medical imaging studies of the involved area of the body. The doctor wants to find out how tender and swollen the patient is, and will need to check for signs of inflammation, bone injury, and structural defects. This will help with determining what the problem is and how to treat it. Doctors may also recommend blood tests to check for things like a high white blood cell count, a classic indicator of disease.
These conditions usually require rest to allow the tissue a chance to recover. The patient may need gentle physical therapy during the resting period and after the recovery to build up strength and flexibility. Good physical therapy can help patients avoid future injuries, and may involve tips and tricks to teach patients how to use their bones and joints more safely. Braces can also be necessary to provide support, as seen in patients with repetitive stress injuries to the wrists caused by working on the computer.
A patient with enthesopathy may need medications. These can include drugs to manage inflammation and pain along with medications available to treat specific conditions. Sometimes injections of compounds like steroids are necessary if the patient experiences extreme pain and swelling. The goal is to prevent further injury to the soft tissue by minimizing the amount of inflammation at the site. Enthesopathies can become chronic, requiring a lifetime of management including rest, medications, gentle exercises, and other tactics to prevent flareups and further injuries. Arthritis is a common example of a chronic enthesopathy.