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Acupuncturists regularly treat patients with tendonitis and fasciitis. I see people with these types of ailments almost daily.

In traditional, Western medicine “-itis” means inflammation, which refers to a swollen, painful and sometimes reddened area. The tendon, fascia, laryng-, arthro-, cardia, appendix: All are describing the tissue, organ or part of the body that has the “-itis.” In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the sinews or joint tissues are part of the liver system. (In TCM every organ system governs specific body tissues.)

A TCM diagnosis that includes “liver system imbalance” is one of the most common diagnoses for Americans. When fully manifested, patients with liver imbalance have what we call a wiry pulse; they can be irritable, angry or depressed in demeanor; they may have eye problems such as dryness, burning, redness or itchiness; and they may have rib- area pain. Women with liver system imbalance may experience aggravated premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms (i.e., breast tenderness, cramps, irritability and alternating constipation/loose stools before a period) and headaches that occur at the top of the head.

Tendonitis and fasciitis are common in people with liver system imbalance. They are sometimes difficult to treat, especially if the patient has a job or hobby in which they are constantly using, and re-injuring, that area of their body. A person with tendonitis or fasciitis needs to take a break from using that part of their body to allow it to fully heal. Like most ailments, the earlier we catch the condition the easier it responds to treatment and can heal.

Basically, an acupuncturist treats tendonitis and fasciitis with acupuncture points that help open the appropriate bodily channels and move the energy (Qi) to where the pain or problem is. These points are sometimes local to the injured area, although just as often they are opposite the injured area.

An acupuncturist also will place points elsewhere on the body to help the liver function better nourish and support the tendons, fascia and ligaments.

In TCM we often use liniments and herbs to help heal tendonitis and fasciitis. Liniments are medicinal fluids usually containing herbs and camphor soaked in alcohol or oil and rubbed into the skin to soothe pain and relieve stiffness and swelling. These are often sent home with a patient to use several times a day.

We also have herbal patches that have a similar effect but are more convenient to use. Many of the herbs found in these patches are referred to as “liver blood nourishing” and energy (Qi) moving. They include dang gui, myrrh gum, frankincense resin, peppermint/menthol and ginger. An acupuncturist also might offer internal herbs to support a patient’s sinews and joints; a peony and licorice combination is common.

An individual with tendonitis or fasciitis has several treatment options available at the acupuncturist’s office. No one has to live with either of these painful ailments, but remember: Early treatment equals faster healing.