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Natural Remedies for Tendonitis

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Updated June 26, 2014

Natural Remedies for Tendonitis

What is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon, the band of fibrous tissue that attaches muscles to bone. The condition causes pain and tenderness near the affected joint, which is worse with movement of that joint. Tendonitis most commonly occurs around the elbows, shoulders, and knees, but it can also affect the wrists, hips, and heels.

Natural Remedies for Tendonitis

If you are experiencing symptoms of tendonitis, it's important to see your doctor to be properly diagnosed. Although certain natural remedies show promise, there hasn't been enough research at this point to conclude they're effective for tendonitis. Here are some of the more popular natural remedies for tendonitis.

1) Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the better studied remedies for pain, including the pain of tendonitis. For example, a review by the research group the Cochrane Collaboration evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture for tennis elbow. The six studies that met their inclusion criteria suggested that acupuncture was effective for the short term relief of tennis elbow pain.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, pain is believed to result from blocked energy along invisible energy pathways of the body, called meridians, which are unblocked when acupuncture needles are inserted into the skin along those pathways.

Acupuncture may release natural pain-relieving opioids, send signals that calm the sympathetic nervous system, or trigger the release of brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) and hormones.

Be sure to speak with your doctor before trying acupuncture. Side effects may include soreness, bruising, or bleeding at the needle location. Acupuncture may also cause temporary tiredness. Although rare, the needle may break or injure an internal organ or structure. Acupuncture may not be safe if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking "blood-thinning" medication.

An acupuncture treatment generally costs between $60 and $120. Some insurance plans cover acupuncture. If you want to try acupuncture, plan on going one to three times a week for several weeks initially.

2) Transverse Friction Massage

Transverse friction massage is a massage technique that is sometimes used for tendonitis. It is believed to help reduce pain, improve blood flow to the surrounding area, and prevent the formation of scar tissue and adhesions in the connective tissue.

The massage strokes of transverse friction massage are deep and are applied directly to the affected area, perpendicular to the direction of the tendon.

A 2002 review by the research group the Cochrane Collaboration examined studies on transverse friction massage for tendonitis pain. Two studies found no benefit of transverse friction massage over other methods such as ice or ultrasound, however the researchers stated that the studies were limited because they were small in size and that larger studies were needed before conclusions could be made about the effectiveness of transverse friction massage.

Massage therapy by a trained and licensed therapist is generally safe. Be sure that your massage therapist has your complete health history. People with cancer, recent or unhealed fractures, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, deep vein thrombosis, cancer, recent heart attack, burns or open wounds, or who are pregnant should speak to their doctor first. In addition, friction massage should not be done over skin that is infected, broken, blistered, or has ulcerations. It should not be used for rheumatoid tendonitis, bursitis, nerve disorders, hematoma, or over areas where deep pressure could be harmful.

Side effects of massage may include temporary soreness, pain, and fatigue. Very rarely, massage may cause internal bleeding, temporary paralysis, and nerve damage, usually resulting from massage by an improperly qualified person.

Other Remedies for Tendonitis

Types of Tendonitis

Some of the more common types of tendonitis are:

  • Achilles tendonitis – pain is just above the back of the heel.
  • Elbow tendonitis – Lateral epicondylitis, also called tennis elbow, causes pain on the outer side of the forearm near the elbow. Medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer's elbow, results in pain on the inner side of the forearm near the elbow.
  • Patellar tendonitis – pain is just below the knee.
  • Rotator cuff tendonitis – pain is near the shoulder.
Related terms: Achilles tendonitis, golfer's elbow, lateral epicondylitis, medial epicondylitis, tennis elbow, rotator cuff tendonitis, patellar tendonitis, tendinitis

Sources

Brosseau L, Casimiro L, Milne S, Robinson V, Shea B, Tugwell P, Wells G. Deep transverse friction massage for treating tendinitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(4):CD003528.

Kleinhenz J, Streitberger K, Windeler J, Gussbacher A, Mavridis G, Martin E. Randomised clinical trial comparing the effects of acupuncture and a newly designed placebo needle in rotator cuff tendinitis. Pain. 83.2 (1999): 235-241.

Smidt N, Assendelft WJ, Arola H, Malmivaara A, Greens S, Buchbinder R, van der Windt DA, Bouter LM. Effectiveness of physiotherapy for lateral epicondylitis: a systematic review. Ann Med. 35.1 (2003): 51-62.

Trinh KV, Phillips SD, Ho E, Damsma K. Acupuncture for the alleviation of lateral epicondyle pain: a systematic review. Rheumatology (Oxford). 43.9 (2004): 1085-1090.

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