Muscle and Ligament Inflammation (Enthesopathy)

Muscle and Ligament Inflammation (Enthesopathy)

Perhaps you sang or danced to the lively “Dry Bones (Dem Bones)” as a child and learned how the bones in your skeleton were connected. This little tune is a fun way to help you understand your skeletal structure. Unfortunately, it does not have any verses that describe how your bones are held together by connective tissue tendons and ligaments.

You may ask, what does this information have to do with an article about enthesopathy? The short answer is: Everything. The long answer is: Your tendons and ligaments are fibrous connective tissues that are attached to your bones. Their fibers go through a calcification or bone hardening process, which continues to some degree throughout your life.

Tendons attach “muscle to bone” (or other structures) and can therefore move the bone or structure to which they are attached. In comparison, ligaments attach “bone to bone.” They hold your bones together and keep them stable.

The insertion of tendons and ligaments to sites into your bones is called “enthesis.” When any disease or injury (of any cause or type) affects “enthesis”, the insertion sites become inflammed. Inflammation of the insertion sites is called “enthesitis.” If, however, there is a disease process involved at the insertion sites and not the joints, the disorder is called “enthesopathy.” The disorder could be either metabolic, inflammatory, traumatic, or degenerative (Mosby’s dictionary of Medicine, Nursing & Health professions).

We have defined entheses and enthesitis and their association with enthesopathy. Next, we will briefly examine what enthesopathy is, what causes it, common signs and symptoms, when to call your doctor an