A reader asks: “I’ve had recurrent bouts of tendonitis in my elbow and shoulder. When I go to see my doctor about it, he usually recommends Advil or Aleve to manage the pain and swelling. But, I don’t like to take these types of drugs. Are there are any natural remedies that I can use to reduce tendon pain and speed the recovery process?”.
Tendinitis or tendonitis is an inflammatory condition that affects one or more tendons, tissues that connect muscles to bones, in various sites throughout the body including the elbows, knees, shoulders and wrists. Conventional treatment of tendonitis frequently involves the use of anti-inflammatory medications and/or physical therapy. Complementary and preventive approaches include acupuncture, addressing repetitive motions that may contribute to the irritation and the topical application of natural remedies such as DMSO (dimethyl sulfide) – an analgesic solvent derived from the wood pulp.
Several studies have documented a potential role for dietary supplements as complementary agents in the treatment of tendonitis. In general, the supplements in question have included two classes of ingredients: a) those that support the structure of connective tissue in general and tendons specifically; b) natural anti-inflammatory agents. Amino acids (arginine), collagen-based ingredients and organosulfur compounds (MSM) have been found to assist with the repair of damaged tendons in trials involving patients with Achilles tendinopathy and rotator cuff tears. Specially-coated digestive enzymes (bromelain and Phlogenzym aka Wobenzym) and natural extracts from fruits (apples, grapes) and turmeric may reduce systemic inflammation and, thereby, improve flexibility and functioning. The aforementioned dietary supplements are typically recommended as adjuncts to alternative or conventional therapies. However, because tendonitis isn’t a dangerous or life threatening condition, some practitioners will recommended natural approaches i.e. dietary changes and supplements prior to considering corticosteroids or pain relieving medications which often carry a higher risk of side effects