Pain Relief

Natural Remedies for Tendonitis: How to Help Heal the Pain

By Justin Fowler-Lindner

Tendonitis rates are on the rise.

People are living longer, and that means more time to play sports, sit at desks, and do all the things that cause tendonitis.

Combine that with an inflammatory diet, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a repetitive use injury.

Although tendonitis is most common in elderly populations, people of all ages can be at risk.

Fortunately, there are several effective natural remedies for tendonitis, including:

  1. Anti-inflammatory diet
  2. Bromelain
  3. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
  4. L-arginine
  5. Curcumin

Let’s take a closer look at how these nutrients can reduce inflammation, fight pain, and heal damaged tendons. 

What Is Tendonitis?

Tendonitis is a type of painful inflammation of the tendons: the chord-like body parts that connect muscle to bone. It’s typically caused by wear and tear from repeating the same motion hundreds of times over.

Causes and Risk Factors of Tendonitis

People over the age of 40 are the most at risk, but other causes include:

  • Sitting at a computer with poor posture
  • Typing and using a computer mouse
  • Cleaning 
  • Construction work
  • Tennis (tennis elbow)
  • Basketball (jumper’s knee)
  • Running with poor form (heel-striking)
  • Golfing
  • Cycling
  • High-intensity workouts without warming up properly
  • Not stretching/cooling down following exercise
  • Concurrent inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis

Especially in older individuals, a single trip or fall might be all it takes to ignite symptoms. 

Signs and Symptoms of Tendonitis

Depending on the cause, tendonitis can develop almost anywhere, but it’s most common in the elbows, knees, wrists, shoulders (rotator cuff), hands, hips, and heels.

Common signs and symptoms of tendonitis include:

5 Natural Remedies for Tendonitis

Treating tendonitis naturally means reducing inflammation and promoting healing with the right foods and supplements.

Here’s how to reverse tendonitis with nutrition:

1. Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Once a nasty case of tendonitis sets in, it’s easy to make it worse by eating foods that unintentionally promote inflammation.

The first step to reducing pain is to stop aggravating your body with harmful foods. That means following a diet that strengthens the gut lining and protects the bloodstream from inflammatory agents.

At the same time, it’s important to eat foods that promote circulation to get much-needed blood flow to damaged tendons.

Pro-inflammatory foods to avoid include:

  • Sugar and refined grains fuel bad gut bacteria, weaken the gut lining, increase inflammation, and promote obesity. 
  • Table salt is pure sodium chloride, and having too much of it can throw your electrolytes out of balance. In order for the body to heal properly, it requires the right ratio of electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. 
  • Alcohol has plenty of undesirable side effects, including inflammation. 
  • Caffeine can boost cortisol, compromise the gut lining, trigger hormone imbalances, and increase inflammation. Plus, it contains compounds that inhibit calcium absorption.
  • Hydrogenated oils in fast food are high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

Other foods, however, are anti-inflammatory powerhouses, and those are the ones that you’ll want to eat up.

Here are some of the best foods for tendonitis:

  • Bone broth is packed with amino acids and collagen, both of which heal the gut, reduce inflammation, and help repair damaged soft tissue.
  • Wild-caught fish like salmon and sardines are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • Grass-fed beef contains high quantities of amino acids, and because it’s grass-fed it’s also low-inflammatory.
  • Extra-virgin coconut oil is a source of healthy fat and can soothe intestinal inflammation.
  • Dense leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are packed with antioxidants and micronutrients that promote healing and fuel healthy gut bacteria. 
  • High potassium/magnesium foods like avocado can promote circulation: an important part of soft tissue recovery. 
  • Berries are high in antioxidants like vitamin C that are essential to collagen synthesis.

Now that you have a broad idea of how to keep inflammation at bay with nutrition, it’s time to take an in-depth look at some of the best nutrients for tendonitis recovery.

2. Bromelain

Bromelain is a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient that’s extracted from the stems of pineapples.

It’s also found in smaller quantities in the pineapple fruit itself.

Studies show that bromelain may treat a variety of inflammatory illnesses, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and tendon injuries.

In a 2012 rodent study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, rats with crush injuries to the Achilles tendon were separated into groups and treated with either supplemental bromelain, fresh pineapple juice, or nothing at all.

Both the bromelain and pineapple groups showed a significant increase in tenocytes (the cells that form mature tendons), but the bromelain group performed better overall.

3. Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate

Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are popular ingredients in joint pain supplements because of their ability to repair damaged tissue and promote pain relieving effects. They do this by supporting collagen production and speeding the formation of tendon and ligament cells.

Authors of a study published in the journal Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine found that, “Low dose combinations of glcN (glucosamine) and CS (chondroitin sulfate) effectively stimulate in vitro collagen and NCP synthesis by ligament cells, tenocytes and chondrocytes.”

As a result, researchers believe that these supplements may be a useful adjunct treatment for sports-related tendon injuries.

4. L-arginine

The amino acid L-arginine is one of the best supplements to take after a workout, and here’s why:

It’s well-known that endogenous nitric oxide (NO) plays a key role in repairing damaged tendons, and studies show that L-arginine can increase nitric oxide levels.

A 2013 study in the journal Cell and Tissue Research found that rats injected with L-arginine showed increased NO activity and significantly improved tendon repair.   

5. Curcumin

Curcumin is one of the best natural remedies for inflammation, and research demonstrates that it can help injured tendons heal.

In a landmark 2011 study, researchers proved for the first time that curcumin can effectively promote the production of human tenocytes in vitro.

Similarly, a 2016 rodent study found that, “Curcumin can improve the quality of tendon rupture healing and thus represents a promising strategy in the management of injured tendon tissue.”

What to Know Before Trying Natural Remedies for Tendonitis

By taking the right supplements, eating the right foods, and avoiding the inflammatory ones, you may have a better chance at treating tendonitis without steroid injections, prescription anti-inflammatory medications, or a ton of physical therapy.

However, it’s always best to consult your physician for medical advice before forgoing conventional treatments altogether.

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