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Reader questions

I’m going to start answering some of the questions I’ve been getting from readers here. This one’s from Lena, who thinks she has tendonitis:

About six months ago I was diagnosed with tendonitis. When I was diagnosed, I was given a brace to wear for two weeks. During that time, the pain was fine, until I took the brace off to shower. When I did, the pain came back worse than ever.

After the two weeks, my hand was better for about a week, and then the pain was back daily. Usually it’s fine, but occasionally I’ll bang it against something, or someone will grab my wrist, and I’m hit with very dibilitating pain.

My options are physical therapy, doing nothing and trying to be careful, or getting a cast. The cast would force me to rest the tendon for several weeks.

Does anyone have experience to share? I’d like some advice for which option is the best. This is worrying me a lot and I’d love some feedback.

Thanks!

Lena, you very likely do not have tendonitis (which is inflammation) but tendonosis (which is actual degeneration of the tendon). The brace helps with the pain because it keeps you from using the tendons, but – as you’ve seen – when you take it off you’re back to square one. Simple cases of inflammation will generally go away within two weeks, especially if you’ve immobilized the area, but obviously that hasn’t happened with you.

NSAIDs, ice and the other usual anti-tendonitis treatments aren’t going to work for you because you don’t have inflammation. For tendon degeneration you need a different approach, one that involves actually rebuilding the tendon collagen via specific exercises and nutrition. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t have time to keep up with the latest research in this area, so the best they can do is cortisone shots and (in severe cases) surgery. But there are better alternatives out there. I can’t give away the farm here, but I will say that my book has a long section that gives you instruction on how to design and execute these types of exercises, as well as a complete section on the types of foods and supplements that you should be putting into your body.

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