How to tell the difference between Arthritis and Tendonitis

The initial symptoms of arthritis and tendonitis can feel very similar, so here’s an easy home-diagnosis way to tell the difference: try taking glucosamine for two weeks. If it helps, you likely have osteoarthritis. If not, it’s more likely a tendon problem.

What’s the reasoning here? Glucosamine (often packaged with MSM and/or chondroitin) has been shown in quite a few scientific studies to help with cartilage formation. Cartilage is what your joints are made of, and what arthritis attacks, so upping the rate of production in turn helps your joints. End result: you feel better…if you have arthritis.

On the other hand, glucosamine will not help with collagen formation, and tendons are made of collagen. So it stands to reason that if you feel like you have “joint pain”, take glucosamine, and don’t experience any relief, one very likely culprit could be your tendons. (Tendon insertion points are often very close to joints and it can be difficult to tell exactly where the pain is coming from.)

Taking NSAIDs, using ice and so on can provide temporary relief for either condition, but since both arthritis and tendonitis are both the result of inflammation, using these treatments won’t help you distinguish between the two. And knowing which one you have is of course very important if you intend to treat the condition yourself.

If you do decide that you have a tendon problem, however, and you’ve had your pain for more than a couple of weeks, I caution you against assuming that the issue is tendonitis. More likely it’s tendonosis, which is an actual degeneration of the tendon. (This is especially true if you take NSAIDs and they don’t help.) If you think that this might be your problem, have a look at my tendon test. It’ll only take a minute, is completely free, will tell you whether you have tendonitis or tendonosis, and give you some options about what to do about it.

The Most Important Thing

The new year is here and since this month also marks the one-year anniversary of this blog, I thought I’d start things off by reiterating the most important single thing I can tell you about tendonitis. So here it is: if you’ve had tendon pain for more than a couple of weeks and have been faithfully applying the usual doctor’s prescription of rest, icing and NSAIDs, without much effect…you probably don’t have tendonitis.

Any kind of “itis” is inflammation. If you really do have inflammation, chances are excellent that it will get better with the above treatment. So it stands to reason that if you’ve tried the treatment for a while and your pain doesn’t get better, you didn’t actually have inflammation in the first place. (You can take a quick, one-minute test here to see which condition you have.)

Estimates range anywhere from 50% to over 90% that most diagnosed cases of “tendonitis” are actually tendonosis. This means that whatever problem you have with your tendons, it has gone beyond inflammation and now involves actual degeneration of the tendon itself. If this is the case, you’re not going to experience much relief with rest, ice and aspirin, because none of that is designed to repair your tendon.

To get better, you’re going to need a fresh approach. One part is good nutrition; either clean up your diet or else get some supplements that will give your body the building blocks it needs to heal. The other part is a set of exercises that will signal your body to start repairing itself. Particularly in regular exercisers and older people, the usual repair mechanisms often need an extra boost to get the upper hand against degenerative tendonopathy.

Target Tendonitis gives advice on both of these topics. It spells out the types of exercises you need to fix your tendons, and also gives specific recommendations about the sort of food and supplements that you need to help your tendons function free of pain. At less than thirty bucks (still!), it’s the best tendon-healing value on the market today.

Blackberry Thumb, iPhone Thumb…

I ran across an interesting (and slightly horrifying) article in the Calgary Herald a couple of days ago (text and link are below). People usually think of tendon pain as something that happens in the larger joints, the elbows, knees, ankles and so on. But it can happen anywhere that there is a repetitive stress and pattern overload. Here’s an extreme case:

Banker undergoes ‘BlackBerry thumb’ surgery because she used her iPhone too much

By Katya Wachtel, Business Insider August 29, 2010

A mortgage banker just had to have surgery on her thumb because she was using her iPhone too much, according to WTSP.

The hospital says her condition is best known as “Blackberry thumb.” However, since she was using an iPhone, “iPhone thumb” is obviously more appropriate in her case.

Symptoms of Blackberry thumb include pain, inflammation, numbness and tingling.

The Philly woman might have realized she felt some of the symptoms had she not spent up to 12 hours a day in communication with clients on her iPhone.

The tendons in her thumb became so severely inflamed, they required removal.

Her need for surgery would (almost?) be funny, but apparently surgery on the hand is very serious and it’s going to be a long time before she can use her phone again. Recovery time for tendon surgery can be up to two months or longer.

“Most hand tendon injuries take longer to recover than most other operations elsewhere in the body,” according to the American Society for Surgery of the Hand

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/technol…#ixzz0y2Lt9Vag

I have complete confidence that the techniques I explain in my book will cure most people, but in this case I wouldn’t be completely positive. I’m fairly sure that with the amount of stress this lady placed on her tendons she’s gone beyond tendonitis (simple inflammation) and well into tendonosis (actual damage to the tendon itself). But if you’ve got tingling and numbness you’re probably experiencing some nerve damage along with the tendon problem, and that’s frankly beyond my expertise. Still, I think that if it were me I’d invest thirty bucks–especially since there’s a money-back guarantee–and see what happened before I opted for surgery.

For those who are experiencing some pain (but not as severe as the lady in the article), there is a quick and accurate tendon test on this page that will tell you what sort of pain you have, and what you can do about it.

De Quervain’s Syndrome

I’ve been getting some questions about De Quervain’s Syndrome lately, so I thought I’d answer a few of them here.

First, De Quervain’s Syndrome is neither tendonitis nor tendonosis. That’s right: there are still more kinds of tendon pain. In this case, what you’re looking at is something called paratenonitis.

Tendons are covered with sheaths, called the peritendon, and when you have problems with the peritendon, you get paratenonitis. Paratenonitis can occur by itself, or in conjunction with problems with the tendon inside, which makes things complicated when you try to diagnose it and/or cure it.

Since paratenonitis usually has a large component of inflammation, if you suffer from De Quervain’s Syndrome my first line of defense would be NSAIDs, ice, stretches and rest. If that doesn’t get rid of the pain within a week or two, then it’s likely that you’ve also got some tendonosis going on, and perhaps some actual degeneration of the peritendon as well. In that case, you might want to give the techniques in my book a try. Among the videos that come with the book is one that shows the exact exercise you should do to get rid of De Quervain’s.