DIY Tendinosis Treatment
The How and Why:
Don’t you mean tendonitis? I didn’t know there was a difference either until not too long ago. Tendonitis and tendinosis sound so similar, yet they are different conditions whose treatment can really impact your healing. Tendonitis is inflammation of the tissue, usually happening in acute situations, while tendinosis is degradation of the connective tissue, and is often caused by overuse and repetitive motion activities. Even small motions like scrolling on your phone, using a mouse, or in my case tapping in needles hundreds of times per day, can cause a very painful situation if done for hours on end every day. How many people do you know who work at a desk have neck pain, carpal tunnel, or forearm pain? So many! Fascial adhesions can develop (those little gritty knots you may feel along the areas of pain), scar tissue and calcium deposits can be laid down, and muscles literally get glued to each other — so what normally allows for full, pain-free range of motion is now super painful and restricted.
From the West:
For tendonitis, many MD’s recommend RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) along with NSAID’s, possibly a brace to keep it immobile, and if its really bad a steroid injection. Studies have found that people with tendonitis do not have inflammatory cells, they actually have a breakdown of collagen, so NSAIDs and steroids wouldn’t be useful. I think RICE is good depending on the stage of injury (read my Ice vs. Heat blog post here). NSAIDs and steroid injections can actually weaken your tissues over time, and potentially cause a rupture in the future. A brace sounds like a good idea because it stabilizes the joint and provides compression that can reduce the swelling. I usually like braces only for very short periods of time, and best if they can be avoided all together. Immobilizing for too long if its unnecessary inhibits proper blood flow to the area, promotes muscle atrophy (shrinking), weakness, lack of range of motion, muscle imbalance and compensation. Everything that you need in your body to heal itself is in your blood, and tendons already do not get a good blood supply (which is partly why it takes so long for tendons and ligaments to heal).
I do believe that every patient and condition is different, and I’ve seen people in debilitating pain where a steroid injection allowed them to sleep or go to work. But my philosophy is always to try the least invasive route first. Deep tissue massage, acupuncture, heat, ultrasound, herbal medicated plasters, and this DIY treatment below can speed up healing and potentially eliminate the need for more invasive modalities.
From the East:
Below is my super easy DIY tendinosis treatment. All items you can get at the health food store, and Zheng Gu Shui (ZGS) you can get from my office or on Amazon. It literally takes less than 3 minutes to set up, and you can do this treatment 3-4 times per week, for 20-30 minutes at a time. Think of all this extra treatment time you are receiving!
ZGS is a Chinese Medicine formula that is very “hot,” meaning it has herbs that are hot in quality. “Zheng” means “to mend” and “gu,” means “bone”, so the formula is meant to penetrate down to the bone level for deep injuries. This formula is mostly used for chronic or stubborn joint and tendon conditions.
* Caution * Because ZGS is so warm, it can definitely cause skin irritation or a chemical burn if you are not careful. I personally switch off using just castor oil and heat for 2 days, and 2 days with the addition of ZGS. If you have sensitive skin you can still have great results with the castor oil and heat on its own. If you are unsure of your skin sensitivity, try it for 5 minutes, and adjust from there. DO NOT fall asleep with this treatment, it is a recipe for a chemical burn. (Yes, I’ve done it).
DIY Tendinosis Treatment:
Zheng Gu Shui
ACE Elastic Bandage
Step 1: Cut off a piece of plastic wrap large enough to cover and wrap the entire surface area of your injury site.
Step 2: Put a few layers of gauze on top of the plastic wrap.
Step 3: Pour roughly 1-2 tablespoons of castor oil in the middle of the gauze.
Step 4: Spray 4-5 squirts of Zheng Gu Shui on top of the castor oil.
Step 5: Carefully pick up the plastic wrap w/ the gauze strips and lay face down over the injury site (so the castor oil and ZGS mix is directly over the injury site). Wrap the edges of the ceran wrap over the whole area so the gauze stays in place.
Step 6: Wrap the heating pad around the whole joint. Wrap the ACE elastic bandage over the whole thing so it doesn’t move.
Step 7: Relax and enjoy! You can leave it on for 20-30 minutes. Repeat as needed 3-4 times per week.
My job is to help you get out of pain as quickly as possible, and to help you become an active participant in your own health. I myself have had many, many injuries, and have a deep understanding of the mechanisms and effects of pain on the physical and mental body. Pain can overtake every thought that you have, it can wake you up at night, take you out of work and favorite hobbies, along with put a strain on your emotional and mental state and well being.
Be patient. Tendinosis can take 3-6 months to fully heal, depending on the severity of the condition. Surround yourself with positive people who can support your healing, and tiny, baby steps forward are still a step forward. Know that you can, and will definitely heal.
Best in Health,