Pain relief for tendinitis, sprains and strains

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Dear Pharmacist: After years of hiking without many problems, I began experiencing pain near my ankle and heel. My doctor diagnosed Achilles tendinitis and prescribed medicine, which did reduce pain and swelling. Which natural remedies keep this at bay? — J.S., Boulder, Colo.

Dear J.S.: Ouch, I've had tendinitis from over-typing and exercising so I hear you. This condition is usually an overuse injury and causes pain or swelling in any tendon — the wrists, knee caps, elbows, Achilles tendons. Unfortunately, tendons don't have a rich blood supply and that hinders adequate delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Simply put, tendons are slow to heal.

The most important thing you can do to improve tendinitis pain is to rest the area, which is hard to do when it's your foot. But tendons don't recover if you keep overusing them. Or you can ice the area to reduce inflammation, but icing doesn't help much after the first few days.

Supplements or medications help. Most of you will opt for medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen (these are NSAIDs and are contraindicated in people with bleeding ulcers, among other conditions). My favorite anti-inflammatory supplements include astaxanthin, saffron and curcumin because they have other tremendous health benefits.

Here are other options that can help.

Boswellia: A strong anti-inflammatory compound that works as effectively as NSAIDs. Sometimes called Indian frankincense, this herb can be combined with any of the three supplements I mentioned above.

Methylsulfonylmethane: MSM supports healthy connective tissues like tendons and ligaments. It's used for arthritis, too. This one is a must for prevention.

White willow (Salix alba): Also known to increase fertility, white willow bark may ease aches and pains. It is a mild blood thinner.

Ginger: Great for inflammation and pain, especially around the joints, ginger increases blood circulation (be careful with other blood thinners). You can buy fresh root at any grocery store and grate into your meals, or make tea.

Ruta (Ruta graveolens): This homeopathic remedy is used for tendon pain, especially in the Achilles, feet, hips, wrists and areas near other joints. Boiron makes this in pellet form.

Arnica (Arnica montana): Also a homeopathic, arnica has been used for centuries to treat general pain. It can be taken orally or applied topically. The topical cream Traumeel by Heel contains arnica and several other healing compounds targeted specifically to reduce pain and inflammation from strains and sprains.

Tendinitis can sometimes be the result of arthritis, gout, Reiter syndrome or Ankylosing spondylitis, Lyme disease or other conditions. See your doctor for a correct diagnosis, and ask if these supplements are right for you.

This is not intended to treat, cure

or diagnose your condition.

Go to SuzyCohen.com.

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