Irritation or inflammation of a tendon can cause pain, tenderness around the joint of the affected tendons and may lead to impair function; this is often referred to as tendonitis or tendinopathy. Tendonitis can occur in any of your tendons; the most common joints are the wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, and heels. Acupuncture is known to reduce the time required for the healing of tendonitis. Peruse on to find out some useful facts on acupuncture and tendonitis.

Structure of Tendons

Tendons are thick fibrous cords of connective tissue that bind muscles to bone. They transmit the contraction force of muscle production to bones. Tendons consist of multiple bundles, fibroblasts, and dense linear collagen fibrils. As we age, our tendons can tolerate less stress and become less elastic, making them more susceptible to tears.

Tendonitis: Symptoms and Causes

The primary symptom is pain at the site of tendon and surrounding area. Pain can be gradual or sudden and severe, especially if calcium deposits are present. Tenderness and mild swelling may also be present. Some common names for various types of tendonitis problems include Tennis elbow, Golfer’s elbow, Pitcher’s shoulder, Swimmer’s shoulder, and Jumper’s knee. A sudden injury can cause tendonitis. However, tendonitis usually develops from the repetition of a movement over time. You may have specific jobs or hobbies that involve repetitive motions which can put chronic stress on the tendons, leading to tendonitis. Age is another risk factor.

Tendons are bradytrophic tissue with poor blood supply, therefore making them more difficult to heal compared to bones or skin. Chronic tendon irritation may develop into tendinosis- a condition involving degenerative changes in the tendon along with abnormal blood vessel growth. If tendonitis is left untreated, there is an increased risk of tendon rupture or tear which often will require surgery.

Acupuncture and Tendonitis

Acupuncture is a holistic treatment method in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It works on the principle of universal energy flow called qi, through specific channels, called meridians. According to TCM, causes of tendonitis lead to local qi and blood stagnation in the channels, causing pain. Needling (the process of inserting thin needles) to the affected area on the body can bring more blood flow and oxygen to help the tissue recover faster. This will also help alleviate the symptoms of pain. The treatment involves the Liver organ in TCM, which is thought to control and moisten the tendons and ligaments.

Both Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine give excellent results in acute and chronic tendonitis. It can prevent debilitation because acupuncture can elongate the tendons and rebalance the muscles and tendons.

Acupuncture Research In Treatment Of Tendonitis

Research published in Acupuncture Med 2015 used rats to create the tendonitis model in order to explore how acupuncture can help tendonitis. In this study the acupuncture point ST36 and BL57 were stimulated manually and with electro current. The mass-average diameter of collagen fibril was measured on days 7, 14 and 21 of acupuncture treatments. Interestingly, the electro-acupuncture increased the mass-average diameter on day 7 and day 14, but not on day 21. On the other hand, the manual acupuncture improved the mass-average diameter of the collagen fibril for three phases. Both manual and electro-acupuncture can increase the reorganization of collagen fibrils, indicating that acupuncture can help strengthen the tendons during the healing process. Acupuncture can help patients with tendon pain and inflammation.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Li Zhenge author and Jessica Ward is an editor of this article. Dr. Li Zheng is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist and graduated from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. She has 26 years of clinical experience. In this article, Dr. Li Zhenge talks about acupuncture and tendonitis.