Subablative thermotherapy is frequently used for the treatment of joint instability related diseases. In this therapy, mechanically deformed collagenous tissues are thermally shrunk and the stability of the tissue is re-established. In this research, the thermal damage fields generated by three different clinical heating modalities (monopolar and bipolar radio frequency and Ho:YAG laser) are compared numerically using finite element analysis. The heating rate dependent denaturation characteristics of collagenous tissues are incorporated into the model using experimental data from in vitro experimentation with rabbit patellar tendons. It is shown that there are significant differences among the thermal damage profiles created by these modalities, explaining the main reason for the discrepancies reported in the literature in terms of the efficacy and safety of each modality. In the complementary paper, the accuracy of the model presented here is verified by in vitro experimentation with a model collagenous tissue and by quantifying the denaturation-induced birefringence change using Optical Coherence Tomography and Magnetic Resonance Imaging.