The 6 Best Over-the-Counter Treatments for Tendonitis | Livestrong.com (2022)

The 6 Best Over-the-Counter Treatments for Tendonitis | Livestrong.com (1)

Both hot and cold therapy can help when you have tendonitis.

Image Credit: Dmitry Marchenko / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages

Tendons are the tissues that connect your muscles to your bones throughout your body. When they become inflamed or irritated, you'll feel tenderness and pain of tendonitis, says Brynna Connor, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician and health care ambassador for NorthWestPharmacy.com.

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Generally speaking, tendonitis (sometimes spelled tendinitis) most frequently appears around the joints we use most often — the wrists, elbows, shoulders, Achilles tendon/heel and knees — but you might also get tendonitis at your thumbs or hips.

"Tendonitis can be caused when some harsh or violent strain occurs on a tendon, or when someone moves their body in a way that it is not used to," Dr. Connor says. "Common activities that cause tendonitis are sports, gardening, remodeling your home, cleaning or repetitive movements."

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If you have tendonitis, the first step is to book a check-up with your doctor. This is to rule out any more serious injury requiring medical attention.

Once you're cleared, try these over-the-counter treatments for tendonitis to ease some of your pain and help those tendons heal.

1. Best Anti-Inflammatory Medication: Advil Liqui-Gels

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(Video) Best Topical Medicine for Pain

One of the most common ways people treat soreness is to take pain relievers. For tendonitis specifically, you should look for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, says Joan Rubinger, FNPC, PhD, CSCS, board-certified nurse practitioner, certified strength and conditioning coach and founder of All Pro Sports Medicine.

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"These medications aim to reduce inflammation and related symptoms by neutralizing the inflammatory response in the body," Rubinger explains.

Advil's active ingredient is ibuprofen, which you can also find in Motrin. Another NSAID is naproxen, found in Aleve. Stay away from Tylenol, though: Its active ingredient is acetaminophen, which addresses pain but not inflammation.

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2. Best Topical: Voltaren Gel

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Applying certain anti-inflammatory gels and creams can provide near-instant relief when you have tendonitis.

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Your best bet is this highly rated topical treatment that used to be a prescription, but is now available over-the-counter, says Arianne Missimer, DPT, CSCS, physical therapist and founder and CEO of The Movement Paradigm.

"This non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gel has been clinically proven to reduce pain associated with acute inflammatory conditions such as tendonitis," she explains.

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Apply three to four times a day to the affected area for best results.

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(Video) What's The Secret To Fixing Shoulder Tendonitis?

3. Best Cold Pack: IceWraps Cold Therapy

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Because tendonitis is caused by inflammation often resulting in swelling, icing the affected area will go a long way in treating your pain and assisting in the healing process, Dr. Connor says.

For the best relief, alternate between icing for 15 to 20 minutes and removing the ice for the same amount of time several times throughout the day.

For tendonitis, Dr. Connor particularly likes large, reusable ice packs with cloth coverings because they're comfortable and much easier to wrap around awkward areas like knees and shoulders.

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4. Best Compression Therapy: Mueller Thumb-Stabilizing Brace

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Compression that comes with reusable elastic bandages or stabilizing braces is helpful to hold your joint still and prevent movement that can aggravate the injury and prevent healing, Dr. Connor says.

(Video) How to Cure Tendonitis of the Hand and Wrist

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"While you have swelling, you can use these compression methods, but never wrap too tightly," she continues. "You don't want to see any skin discoloration because that indicates the restriction of blood flow, which can be dangerous and will also slow healing."

You can go with classic elastic bandages for knees and elbows ($11.95 for 4, Amazon.com), but if you have tendonitis in your thumb, Dr. Connor says a brace like this will work very well in stabilizing your joint while your injury heals.

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5. Best Heat Therapy: MitoPro 300

Missimer says red-light therapy is one of the trendiest ways to reduce inflammation after a hard workout or periods of acute injury such as tendonitis.

"Elite athletes, trainers and biohackers are a big fan of this safe and effective rehab and recovery technique," she explains.

You can book red-light sessions at wellness clinics or purchase smaller, at-home products. For the latter, she recommends the MitoPro 300, which is more affordable than many others and ideal if you're someone who works out frequently.

She adds that being very consistent with red-light therapy is important, and you'll see the best results if you do it every day for 15 minutes.

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6. Best Rest Therapy: Epsoak Pure Epsom Salt

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The 6 Best Over-the-Counter Treatments for Tendonitis | Livestrong.com (7)
(Video) 6 Home Remedies for Tendinitis That Actually Work (Tendonitis)

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If you ask Dr. Connor, nothing beats rest when it comes to tendonitis treatment. In fact, she says it's essential to allow for the swelling to go down and for healing to occur.

While you can still exercise and move as long as you're not straining the injured tendon, it's vital to proceed with caution.

"If you have tendonitis in your knee or ankle and still want to stay active, try gentle swimming or working out your upper body while seated. If your shoulder or elbow is injured, go for a walk," she continues. "Until your doctor approves you to go back to normal activity levels, though, be very gentle with the injured area."

One ritual that may feel extra-soothing is taking a warm bath. Not only will you relax, but floating takes the pressure off of your body, too.

To add extra benefit, Missimer suggests tossing in Epsom salts. These are ultra-healing because they contain a high concentration of magnesium. "This mineral supports lymphatic circulation and has natural anti-inflammatory properties," she explains.

Add two cups of Epsom salts and soak for 20 minutes several times a week for best results.

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What to Look for in OTC Tendonitis Treatments

1. Affected Area

The right treatment for you may depend on where the tendonitis is in your body. For example, a compression brace makes more sense if the tendonitis is in your thumb, while an elastic bandage will work better if the pain and swelling is in your knee or elbow.

The same is true for topical creams and gels, which might not be comfortable on your wrist if, say, you're typing on a keyboard all day.

2. Active Ingredients

As with any medicine or topical treatments, make sure you pay attention to the back label before use. If you are sensitive to certain active ingredients, you'll want to avoid anything that could cause upset or harm. It's also important to note that various tendonitis treatments have different textures and smells, which could be tricky if you're sensitive.

3. Cost

NSAIDs, ice packs and compression gear are relatively inexpensive, and you could buy a few of them at once to test what works best for your needs. On the other hand, at-home heat therapy can be pricey, so consider consulting with your doctor before investing.

When to See a Doctor

There are various levels of severity when your tendons are inflamed or injured. While OTC treatments will be helpful in most cases, sometimes they aren't enough, says Robert Parisien, MD, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Mount Sinai and the team physician for the U.S. Ski & Snowboard and Fencing Olympic teams.

When OTC treatments aren't working or may not be enough, he says a physical examination may reveal:

  • Decreased range-of-motion secondary to pain
  • Focal swelling and thickening of the tendon
  • Bony spurs at the tendon-bone junction
  • Pain with direct palpation at the involved site
  • Reproducible pain with attempted activation of the tendon against resistance

If your pain isn't going away or changing within a few weeks, don't hesitate to book an appointment with your physician.

FAQs

What is the best over the counter medicine for tendonitis? ›

Aspirin, naproxen sodium (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may relieve tendinitis pain.

What is the best cream for tendonitis? ›

What is the best cream for tendonitis? Mild tendonitis pain can be effectively managed with topical NSAID creams such as Myoflex or Aspercreme.

What cures tendonitis naturally? ›

Complementary and Alternative Therapies
  • Ice, especially right after the injury.
  • Rest.
  • Massage.
  • Immobilizing the affected limb (slings, splints).
  • Flexibility and strengthening exercises after the inflammation goes down.
  • Physical therapy, such as range-of-motion exercises.
  • Ultrasonography.
2 Jun 2016

What's a good vitamin for tendonitis? ›

Vitamin E: Vitamin E reduces inflammation and may help to reduce tendonitis. Good Sources of Vitamin E: wheat germ, fatty fish (e.g.salmon and tuna), nuts, olive oil, and eggs.

What should you not do with tendonitis? ›

Avoid activities that place too much stress on your tendons, especially for long periods. If you have pain during an exercise, stop and rest. Mix it up. If one exercise or activity causes you pain, try something else.

How do you calm down tendonitis? ›

Treating tendonitis

Apply ice packs. Compress the area with an elastic bandage to ease soreness and inflammation. Keep the joint elevated. Your healthcare provider may recommend taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin (in adults), naproxen, or ibuprofen.

Why won't my tendonitis go away? ›

Tendons require a long time to heal because of their poor blood supply. Continued and repetitive activity puts stress on the tendon and slows down the healing process.

Does caffeine affect tendonitis? ›

Caffeine intake does not appear to impair tendon-to-bone healing strength in a rat rotator cuff repair model.

Does Voltaren Gel work for tendonitis? ›

It can also be used to treat acute neck pain, back pain, tendonitis, and sprains and strains. It's particularly useful for people with high blood pressure or heart disease, for whom oral NSAIDs are not recommended. Diclofenac gel must be prescribed by a doctor. Voltaren and pennsaid are the most common brand names.

What is better for tendonitis heat or ice? ›

Heat may be more helpful for chronic tendon pain, often called tendinopathy or tendinosis. Heat can increase blood flow, which may help promote healing of the tendon. Heat also relaxes muscles, which can relieve pain.

What is the most common treatment for tendonitis? ›

Treatment for tendonitis and tenosynovitis

Icing the area to reduce inflammation and pain. Putting a splint on the area to limit movement. Steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine to reduce inflammation and pain.

Is there a vitamin deficiency that causes tendonitis? ›

Background. Vitamin B12 (Vit B12) deficiency results in elevated homocysteine levels and interference with collagen cross-linking, which may affect tendon integrity.

Is Vitamin D good for tendonitis? ›

Likewise, vitamin D plays a significant role in the tendon-to-bone healing process by increasing the bone mineral density and strengthening the skeletal muscles. The 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 binds to vitamin D receptors on myocytes to stimulate growth and proliferation.

What foods cause tendonitis? ›

What should I avoid?
  • Alcohol – prolongs inflammation.
  • Caffeine – known to bind to calcium and promote bone loss.
  • Excess sodium – can counteract potassium.
  • Sugar – reduce immune function, slow down wound healing and increase inflammation.
  • Fried, processed foods – a rich source of pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.
23 Sept 2020

What foods help tendonitis? ›

Foods like broccoli, peppers, citrus, berries and tomatoes contain vitamin C, which helps in the production of collagen—the main protein in tendon tissue. Tendons and ligaments also have a lot of calcium, so replenishing that mineral can help make tendons stronger.

Is apple cider vinegar good for tendonitis? ›

5) Apple Cider Vinegar Compress

Soak a washrag in this solution and place it around the painful area, leaving it on for 15 or 20 minutes. Repeat this three times each day. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which is a natural anti-inflammatory compound that can reduce pain and swelling.

Is Magnesium good for tendons? ›

Magnesium based adhesives have the potential to improve tendon-to-bone healing.

Should I massage tendonitis? ›

For people suffering from tendonitis, it can help with pain relief and speed up the recovery process. Since tendonitis can take weeks to heal, using a massage therapy program to both relax and strengthen the inflamed tendon can give the sufferer a better chance of a full and speedy recovery.

Can stretching make tendonitis worse? ›

The more severe the tendinopathy, the less likely stretching would help. In fact, stretching results in further compression of the tendon at the irritation point, which actually worsens the pain.

Does walking worsen tendonitis? ›

Early exercise for an individual with tendonitis can make the condition worse. The patient will have an increase in pain and swelling the day after treatment rather than a reduction in symptoms.

How do I stop tendonitis from flaring up? ›

In severe tendinitis flare-ups, limit or stop your activity and place cold packs on the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes, up to three or four times a day, to reduce inflammation and pain, says Mueller. In general, ice is helpful after exercising for holding down both swelling and pain.

Should you stretch tendonitis? ›

Does Stretching Help Tendonitis? Quick answer, stretching certainly can help decrease the resting tension of the inflamed or degenerative tendon. It is important to note that you need to make sure that your injury is indeed tendonitis. Stretching is not indicated for tendon tears or ruptures.

Why does my tendonitis keep flaring up? ›

Common reasons why flare-ups happen

Load changes: Sudden increases in load on the Achilles tendon can cause flare-ups when the tendon's not robust enough to cope with this change in demand. Examples include a quick change in activity level, change in terrain (hills vs.

Are there any new treatments for tendonitis? ›

Stem cell injections can help knee, shoulder, wrist, elbow or ankle tendonitis, but the effects are not immediate. It may require several weeks for the tendon to heal, but this can be beneficial for those with chronic tendonitis that has not responded to other treatments. Dr.

Will tendonitis show up on xray? ›

Diagnosis. To diagnose tendinitis, a doctor will perform a physical examination and discuss the symptoms since tendons are soft tissues X-rays aren't usually helpful.

Is Turmeric Good for tendonitis? ›

When dealing with tendonitis, you don't usually think to turn to herbs. One such herb that helps reduce inflammation comes from turmeric called curcumin. Other herbs to help ease the pain of tendonitis would be white willow, ginger, devil's claw and bromelain.

Does drinking water help tendonitis? ›

Proper hydration can improve the production of synovial fluid, reduce the inflammation and maintain the shock absorbing properties of cartilage.

What is the most common cause of tendonitis? ›

Tendinitis is a condition where the connective tissues between your muscles and bones (tendons) become inflamed. Often caused by repetitive activities, tendinitis can be painful. It commonly happens in the elbow, knee, shoulder, hip, Achilles tendon and base of the thumb.

How do you rebuild collagen in tendons? ›

Recent studies show vitamin C enriched gelatin improves collagen synthesis and could play a beneficial role in injury prevention and tissue repair at both 5 gram and 15 gram doses when taken an one hour before exercise.

Should you wrap tendonitis? ›

Compress with a simple elastic bandage or elasticated tubular bandage, which should be snug but not tight, to help control swelling and support the injury. This should be removed before going to sleep.

What is better arnica or Voltaren? ›

Some studies state there is little difference between using arnica and topical anti-inflammatory gels like Voltaren Gel (5). While a different study reported that the use of arnica increased pain when compared with a placebo (6). All topical gels should only be used externally on unbroken skin.

Which is better for inflammation Voltaren or ibuprofen? ›

In a meta-analysis from the Journal of Arthritis Research and Therapy, diclofenac was found to be more effective than ibuprofen for arthritic pain relief. The study reviewed data from 176 studies with over 146,524 patients.

Is biofreeze good for tendonitis? ›

For anyone suffering heel pain, neuropathy, or Achilles tendonitis, Biofreeze is commonly used to relieve pain.

Is Tylenol or ibuprofen better for tendonitis? ›

As you may have guessed from the descriptions above, acetaminophen is best used for fever, aches and pains, but will not be very helpful if the pain is due to inflammation. Ibuprofen is more helpful for these symptoms when inflammation is the cause.

How do you increase blood flow to tendons? ›

The body's tissues need a good supply of the oxygen and nutrients carried in the blood to repair. Activities such as ice, heat, massage and gentle stretching of the calf and tendon help to promote blood flow.

Is Tiger Balm good for tendonitis? ›

A staple in every Tiger Balm U.S. product, menthol causes an initial sensation of coolness that is soon followed by a sensation of warmth. It helps temporarily relieve minor pains, including those caused by arthritis, backaches, bruising, cramps, muscle strains or sprains, and tendonitis.

Is CBD cream good for tendonitis? ›

For inflamed tendons and swollen muscles, we recommend a CBD-infused topical such as cream or gel. Topical products are absorbed into the epidermis layer of the skin, where the CBD interacts with the cannabinoid receptors that regulate inflammation and pain perception.

Does b12 help with tendons? ›

Background: Vitamin B12 (Vit B12) deficiency results in elevated homocysteine levels and interference with collagen cross-linking, which may affect tendon integrity.

What collagen is best for tendons? ›

The most abundant form of collagen in tendon and throughout the body is type I [13, 14]. Type I collagen fibrils are stiff structures that provide the tendon with its mechanical durability and strength.

How much vitamin D should I take for pain? ›

The vitamin D supplements should be offered as vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) and, for normal healthy adults, without calcium. It seems reasonable to use vitamin D supplementation (with or without previous measurement of the vitamin D status) with up to 50 μg (2.000 IU) daily for patients with chronic pain.

How much vitamin D should I take for joint pain? ›

All patients should take a multivitamin to ensure at least minimal daily values of essential nutrients, including calcium and 400 IU to 800 IU of vitamin D. Recommend a daily 2000 IU vitamin D3 supplement, bringing total supplement intake to 2400 to 2800 IU/day (incl.

What fruit is good for inflammation? ›

Eat these fruits for their anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Berries. From strawberries and blackberries to cranberries and blueberries, these gemlike fruits are particularly potent in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. ...
  • Apples. ...
  • Stone fruits. ...
  • Grapes. ...
  • Citrus. ...
  • Pomegranates. ...
  • Image: Kwangmoozaa/Getty Images.
13 Oct 2021

Can banana reduce inflammation? ›

Bananas are versatile fruits with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties that can help counteract inflammation and support the body's immune system. People may benefit from an anti-inflammatory diet and avoiding pro-inflammatory foods.

What are the three causes of tendinitis? ›

Tendinitis can occur as a result of injury or overuse. Playing sports is a common cause. Tendinitis also can occur with aging as the tendon loses elasticity. Body-wide (systemic) diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes, can also lead to tendinitis.

What is best for tendonitis heat or cold? ›

Heat may be more helpful for chronic tendon pain, often called tendinopathy or tendinosis. Heat can increase blood flow, which may help promote healing of the tendon. Heat also relaxes muscles, which can relieve pain.

What are the 4 symptoms of tendonitis? ›

What are the symptoms of tendonitis?
  • pain and tenderness in the affected tendon, which is often worse when you move it.
  • swelling.
  • a grating sensation as the tendon moves.
  • a lump on the tendon.
  • weakness in the affected area.
  • decreased range of motion.

Which is better for tendonitis Advil or Aleve? ›

Advil is better suited for the treatment of acute pain and is the most appropriate NSAID for children. Aleve is better suited for the treatment of chronic conditions. Aleve is more likely than Advil to cause gastrointestinal (GI) side effects because it is longer acting.

Does Voltaren work for tendonitis? ›

It can also be used to treat acute neck pain, back pain, tendonitis, and sprains and strains. It's particularly useful for people with high blood pressure or heart disease, for whom oral NSAIDs are not recommended. Diclofenac gel must be prescribed by a doctor. Voltaren and pennsaid are the most common brand names.

Is tendonitis a form of arthritis? ›

In a word, no. Although both involve inflammation — arthritis is joint inflammation and tendonitis is inflammation of a tendon — having one doesn't directly cause you to develop the other. That said, these conditions sometimes overlap.

Can anti inflammatories make tendonitis worse? ›

Since pro-inflammatory mediators affect various cellular activities related to tendon healing, it is possible that anti-inflammatory agents might negatively affect tendon healing and contribute to the development of tendinopathy.

Does massage help tendonitis? ›

For people suffering from tendonitis, it can help with pain relief and speed up the recovery process. Since tendonitis can take weeks to heal, using a massage therapy program to both relax and strengthen the inflamed tendon can give the sufferer a better chance of a full and speedy recovery.

Does stretching help tendonitis? ›

Does Stretching Help Tendonitis? Quick answer, stretching certainly can help decrease the resting tension of the inflamed or degenerative tendon. It is important to note that you need to make sure that your injury is indeed tendonitis. Stretching is not indicated for tendon tears or ruptures.

Does Tiger Balm help tendonitis? ›

A staple in every Tiger Balm U.S. product, menthol causes an initial sensation of coolness that is soon followed by a sensation of warmth. It helps temporarily relieve minor pains, including those caused by arthritis, backaches, bruising, cramps, muscle strains or sprains, and tendonitis.

Do muscle relaxers help with tendon pain? ›

If the situation is not related to a serious underlying issue, such as an unstable fracture or a tumor, the person may be prescribed muscle relaxers with pain relievers for a short time to treat an intensely painful sprain or strain of muscles, ligaments, or tendons.

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