What is the Tendonitis and How Do I Get It?

As we get older, it becomes easier to injure the tendons in our bodies. Tendons are the thick, fibrous cords that attach muscles to bones. When tendinitis occurs, it is the irritation and inflammation of a tendon, according to the Mayo Clinic. Experts at the Mayo Clinic say tendinitis most commonly occurs around your elbows, knees, heels, shoulders and wrists, but it can occur in any one of the tendons in your body. Sometimes tendinitis can by caused by a sudden injury, but more often than not the condition occurs because of the repetition from a certain movement over time. Most folks develop the ailment due to their jobs, hobbies or anything else that involves repetitive motions. The most common culprits of tendinitis are tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, pitcher’s shoulder, jumper’s knee and swimmer’s shoulder. If you think you may have tendinitis, the symptoms include: a dull, aching pain, especially when moving the affected joint or limb; mild swelling and tenderness. It is recommended that you see a doctor if symptoms hinder daily activities and persist for a long period of time. Typically tendinitis is treated with physical therapy and medications to reduce pain, but if you are looking for a homeopathic alternative sitting in an infrared sauna may be an excellent option for pain relief. According to an article published by the Mayo Clinic, when the injury first occurs, it is recommended to ice the inflicted area in order to constrict blood vessels in the area to reduce swelling. After the first three days, heat may then provide a much better benefit for chronic tendinitis pain because heat increases blood flow to an injury, which can help to promote healing.

Sauna Types and Their Benefits

There are several different types of saunas, but regardless the type the health benefit’s your body receives from them are all the same. In Infrared saunas, special lamps use light waves to heat a person’s body instead of the entire room. Infrared saunas are one of the few mediums that provide infrared heat in a controlled environment. Infrared heat is an invisible electromagnetic wave with a wavelength longer than that of visible light that helps improve blood flow. According to a 2009 review of evidence done by the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, researchers found that infrared saunas produce a lighter demand on the cardiovascular system, so they in turn might be beneficial to people who lead a more sedentary life due to medical issues. Furthermore the review, which covered nine studies, found limited evidence for improvement to chronic pain. Typically in a traditional sauna, the surrounding air is heated up to about 185 degrees, which then heats your body up. However, in infrared saunas the temperature only reaches about 140 degrees. Infrared rays penetrate your body more deeply, which cause your body to start sweating at a lower temperature than a traditional sauna. Therefore, infrared saunas may be a safer alternative for people with heart and other medical issues. According to a study published in the Alternative Medicine Review, patients that received sauna therapy for joint and musculoskeletal pain and hypertension reported reduced pain in their injuries, muscle spasms, arthritis and more. In the study, 46 patients hospitalized for chronic pain were divided into two groups. The control group received rehabilitation, behavioral and exercise therapy. The test group received the same treatment along with 15 minutes of sauna therapy five days a week for four weeks. At the end of the study, the sauna group measured in with lower anger levels and diminished pain behaviors. Two years later, a follow up revealed that 77 percent of the test sauna group had been able to go back to work, compared to only 50 percent of the control group.

Using Infrared Heat to Treat Tendonitis

Although saunas have gained quickly in popularity in recent years, the use of saunas dates back thousands of years in cultures around the world, most recently the discovery of a bath house in Scotland dating back to the Bronze Age, around 2000 B.C., as reported in an article by the Observer. Today, doctors continue to study the use of infrared heat in order to treat chronic pain. In a review out of the University of British Columbia, it stated that there’s evidence to support infrared saunas can help provide pain management. The review also pointed out that no adverse reactions or accidents occurred in any of the studies that were reviewed. Oftentimes, to treat a specific injury, physical therapists use infrared light therapy to treat athletes with injures such as a strained hamstring, according to an article published by Livestrong. The article went on to report that Infrared heat also releases nitric oxide, which improves circulation and increases the amount of nutrients and oxygen that flows to the injured area, ultimately aiding in the healing process. If you suffer a tendonitis injury, infrared sauna sits may be a therapeutic option to relief pain and heal your injury. Before starting a sauna treatment, it is recommended that you only spend between five and 10 minutes for your first session. Once you get more acclimated to the heat, you can slowly increase your sauna sits to up to about 20 minutes. It is recommended that you never drink alcohol before or after using a sauna, instead, drink two to four glasses of water to replenish your body’s water.

Resources: The Mayo Clinic; Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., “Which is Better for Relieving Tendinitis Pain – Ice or Heat?”, Mayo Clinic; U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; Masada A, Koga Y, Hattanmaru M, et al. “Effects of Repeated Thermal Therapy for Patients with Chronic Pain,” Psychother Psychosom 2005;74:288-294; Dr. Tania Dempsey  “WSJ says Infrared Suanas Don’ts Help You Detox- Studies Disagree”, The Observer, November, 2017; Aaron Matthew, “Benefits of Infrared Heat,” Livestrong.com, August, 14, 2017.