Tendon pain can arise from a variety of injuries including overuse, trauma, and muscle imbalances. Inflammation of tendons is called tendonitis and is less serious of an injury than a tendon tear, which can be debilitating. There is no single cure for tendonitis but a variety of supplements can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation to help promote healing. Supplements for tendonitis range from herbal remedies to vitamins and minerals to supplements created in a lab. Below are some of the popular supplements from each of the categories.
A member of the Aster family, Arnica is an herbal remedy commonly used to treat tendon and joint pain. It is generally applied to the affected area as an oil. Arnica is used to reduce swelling and inflammation and can decrease the recovery time for tendon injuries. It should be avoided by women who are pregnant.
A member of the Rutaceae family, Rue is an herbal remedy used to relieve pain associated with tendonitis, muscle strains, and bruises. It is an anti-inflammitory and is believed to strengthen the capillaries in the body.
Belonging to the Pedaliaceae family, Devil’s Claw is another herbal remedy used as a pain reliever, anti-inflammitory and an anti-arthritic. The Iridoid glycosides contained Devil’s Claw are believed to have the anti-inflammitory properties. It is specifically used to treat tendonitis and lower back pain but can also be used to treat bursitis, gout, headaches, and nerve pain.
Vitamin C is a powerful anti-oxident and is necessary for the health of tendons and other connective tissues. Vitamin C is often used to treat a variety of symptoms by promoting overall body health and can help decrease inflammation in tendons by stimulating collagen growth.
Vitamin E is a powerful anti-oxident that can reduce inflammation, especially in fatty tissues. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and can become toxic in too high of concentrations.
Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help increase the bodies anti-inflamitory response to tendonitis in addition to having many other health benefits.
Glucosamine is often prescribed for overall joint and tendon health. It can help relieve pain from tendonitis and arthritis and is often paired with chondroitin to increase its efficiency.
Cayenne pepper is better known as a seasoning but it also can cause blood vessels to expand. The expansion increases blood flow to the inflamed tendons and can bring extra nutrients to the area to help promote healing.
The goal of most of the treatment options for tendonitis is to reduce inflammation and swelling at the point of the injury. As inflammation is reduced, pain also disappears and normal joint function can resume.
Some nutritional supplements target bone and joint health, while others support healthy muscles and ligaments. Health care tends to overlook tendons, the tough bands of tissue that hold everything together.
This is unfortunate because the body has more than 4,000 tendons and every movement depends on them. These elastic tissues connect muscles to joints and bones. They are flexible and stretchy like rubber bands. However, like rubber bands, they can also dry, crack and stretch out.
Tendon Support Supplements
Despite the importance of tendons, consumers have very few supplement options for tendon health. Tendons are avascular, which means the body does not supply them with blood. Without a blood supply, the tendons cannot get the nutrients they need for tissue repair.
Generally, the nutritional supplements that support the tendons take an alternative approach to tendon health. They supply the body with nutrients that build healthy tendons from the start.
Collagen and Mucopolysaccharides
Tendons contain Type-I collagen, a natural protein that gives connective tissues their structure and strength. Tendon support supplements tend to supply this same type of collagen. They may also supply mucopolysaccharides (MPS), building blocks or “glue” that hold tendons together and keep them resilient.
Tendons are prone to inflammation or injury when the muscles they attach to are strained or injured. To repair the problem, the body must rebuild the connective tissue. Certain supplements support tissue repair while others reduce pain and inflammation.
Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs
Calcium, magnesium and vitamins A and C promote healing of all connective tissues, including tendons. An amino acid called L-carnitine strengthens tendons and muscles. Copper, manganese, silicon and zinc support healing of injured tendons. Chondroitin and glucosamine also play a healing role.
Some supplements cannot build tendons and other connective tissues, but they may relieve inflammation in these tissues. Vitamin E, bromelain and evening primrose oil are three examples. Other beneficial herbs include turmeric, licorice and white willow bark taken in supplement form. Arnica and horse chestnut are popular topical remedies for tendon inflammation and pain.
A Supplements Caution
Like all nutritional supplements, those formulated for tendon support may cause drug interactions and unwanted side effects. For example, bromelain may interact with blood thinners to cause bleeding or worsen ulcers. It is wise to consult a physician before taking any nutritional supplements to improve tendon health.