Tendons connect muscles to bones; they are made of thick bands of collagen and have a tendency to break down and tear over time. This can be from overuse, poor form in physical activity, a fall or lifting or carrying heavy objects. Tendonitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed due to micro-tears that result from repetitive movements or from a heavy, sudden force.
In tendonitis, inflammation causes pain, swelling, warmth and redness in the affected area and decreased strength and flexibility. Common areas of tendonitis are the shoulder, elbow, wrist and thumb, hip, knee and ankle.
This condition can be treated initially at home, but if symptoms persist, intervention from a physician or physical therapist may be necessary to heal the tendon. For those who prefer to try self-care first (if you don’t have health insurance for example), there are multiple options, although all may not be equally as effective for everyone.
This is how to treat tendonitis naturally
- Rest – If possible, resting the area reduces inflammation and pain. But this may be a challenge depending on where tendonitis occurs and what your job or daily activities require you to do.
- Ice – To decrease inflammation, warmth and swelling, ice the affected area for 15-20 minutes two to four times each day. Learn more about ice and heat here.
- Immobilization/Support – Wearing slings, straps or braces helps restrict joint movement to take pressure off the tendon and reduce stress.
- Exercises – A physical therapist can recommend stretching, strengthening and range-of-motion exercises to be performed after the inflammation goes down in order to increase joint strength and stability.
- Supplements – Calcium and magnesium can promote healing of connective tissue and muscles, while Vitamins A and E reduce inflammation. Vitamin C also decreases inflammation and boosts immunity. Note that supplements can interact with other medications, so consult your doctor before taking them.
- Herbs – Turmeric and licorice have been shown to lower inflammation, and willow bark functions as a pain reliever. Other herbs that moderate an inflammatory response include cat’s claw, devil’s claw and Boswellia. Again, before taking herbs, speak with your doctor about potential interactions with other medications.
- Homeopathy – Gels or creams, including Arnica, Calendula officinalis, Hamamelis virginiana, Aconitum napellus and Belladonna, can be applied 3 to 6 times daily to address discomfort and stimulate healing. In addition, CBD oil or cream can help mitigate inflammation.
- Acupuncture – Inserting small needles into and around the tendon can help relieve pain. Some acupuncturists add electrostimulation to help promote tendon repair.
- Massage – Transverse friction massage is a technique in which deep strokes are applied perpendicular to the direction of the tendon to help prevent the formation of scar tissue and increase blood flow to stimulate healing.
- Tendonitis recovery device – For tennis elbow specifically, the new Fiix Elbow device from Stā Active delivers instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization – a proven physical therapy procedure – to the tendon to boost blood flow, cellular and tissue regeneration and collagen production. With a simple regimen at home, the Fiix Elbow does not require a prescription, and is backed by a 90-day, money-back guarantee. Learn more about our tennis elbow treatment device here.
If pain persists or worsens, see your doctor for a thorough evaluation and professional healthcare treatment options, such as physical therapy, ultrasound and more.