“Tendinitis,” “bursitis,” and “arthritis” are greatly overused terms. This is according to Doctors Janet Travell and David Simons, authors of the widely acclaimed medical textbook, Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual.
Doctors Travell and Simons believe that what seems to be tendinitis, bursitis, or arthritis in or near a joint is most often nothing more than simple referred pain from myofascial trigger points (tiny contraction knots) in nearby muscles that have been subject to strain or overwork.
When Treatment Fails
Conventional treatments for tendinitis, bursitis, and arthritis can leave you hurting, as many people can attest. This is because anti-inflammatory medications, painkillers, steroid shots, stretching exercises, and rest are inappropriate therapy when trigger points are the cause of the problem.
Pressure applied to the site of the pain is used as a test for tendinitis and bursitis. If it hurts to press there, a tendon or bursa is presumed to be “inflamed.” It’s pretty convincing unless you happen to know that trigger points typically refer pain and tenderness to muscle attachments; in other words, to their tendons and bursas.
True tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon, presumably as a result of microscopic tears in the tendon suffered through injury or overuse. Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa, the fluid filled sac that that pads a tendon.
Inflammation is indicated by pain, redness, swelling, and increased temperature in the tissue overlying an injured tendon or bursa. In the absence of these indications, inflammation does not exist. Pain alone is not an indication of inflammation, or of tendinitis, bursitis, or arthritis.
Even when inflammation is present, trigger points in muscles can still be the ultimate source of the problem. Irritation of connective tissues by the unrelieved muscle tension produced by trigger points can be the direct cause of the inflammation and degenerative changes that develop in or near a joint. When this is the case, trigger point therapy is the appropriate treatment, because it goes to the source of the trouble.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points should be one of the first things considered during any examination for pain that seems to be in joints and tendons. When healthcare practitioners have had adequate training and experience, trigger points are easy to locate and treat. In fact, there are ways to treat them yourself quite effectively.
When you understand where your pain is coming from, the cure can be very simple and direct. Here’s a sampling from The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. This is the correct treatment for what you've been calling “tendinitis in your elbow.”
Elbow pain that is so often misdiagnosed as “tennis elbow,” “tendinitis,” or “epicondylitis” is almost always caused by trigger points in the triceps or extensor carpi radialis longus muscles.
The extensor trigger point, shown in the illustration, is perhaps the most common. The referred pain pattern is represented by diagonal hatch marks in the drawing on the right. The pain can feel like its in the tendon or the bone.
The illustration on the right shows trigger point massage of the forearm with a tennis ball or lacrosse ball against a wall.
Begin 3 or 4 inches below the elbow and stroke repeatedly all the way to the elbow. Search for the small spot of exquisite tenderness that typifies a trigger point.
Six to twelve strokes constitute a treatment, but repeat the treatment several times during the day. Done correctly, this procedure can get rid of your elbow “tendinitis” in anywhere from three days to three weeks.
In The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook, nationally certified massage therapist Clair Davies has simplified Travell and Simons' extensive research into myofascial pain and made it accessible to the layman. His innovative methods of self-applied trigger point massage relieve pain that seems to be in joints and tendons when trigger points are the cause.
To find out more about the book and the method, please visit the homepage. To read a growing number of reviews by people who have been helped by the book, take a look at the book’s page at Amazon.com.