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What Doctors Don't Tell You © (Volume 11, Issue 4)
Q-I love playing tennis during the summer months. The problem is that, whenever I begin my spring playing after the winter months, I get bursitis in my shoulder, which often puts me out of action for weeks. My doctor has variously prescribed steroids and ibuprofen for it, and I find that I'm taking drugs for most of the summer. I'd like to get off all drugs and still play tennis. Is there anything that works to sort out the problem and the pain? WM, Yonkers, NY....

A-Bursitis is a painful inflammation of one or more bursae the little sacs that contain synovial fluid and help to smooth the gliding of your muscles, tendons and skin over your bones. If your problem is chronic, it is usually caused by trauma, which causes pressure to one or more joints. The most common cause of bursitis is overuse of the joint, particularly if you are out of shape. Because it usually affects joints, bursitis is often mistaken for arthritis.

But even if your doctor knows what he's treating, he still will throw the same types of drugs at your bursitis that he would to a patient with arthritis.

Besides analgesics and oral steroids, doctors like to use ultrasound with these types of sports injuries, which is supposed to calm the inflamed area. They also commonly inject either an anaesthetic or a steroid into the area to reduce inflammation.

While all three regimes will help to reduce your inflammation, steroids have a well known list of side effects from bone loss to Cushing's syndrome as do anaesthetic drugs. The side effects of using sound waves at close range to human cells and tissues is largely unknown, although we do know, from lab studies of ultrasound, that it causes heat and cavitation (bubbling) to unknown long term effects.

Happily, you may not need to resort to drugs. A number of supplements will help to reduce immediate inflammation every bit as effectively as drugs, according to WDDTY panel member Dr Melvyn Werbach, who has researched numerous supplements in depth.

One of the most important supplements to consider is injections of vitamin B12.

One study examined 40 patients given daily injections of 1000 mcg of B12 intramuscularly for 7 to 10 days, followed by three times weekly for two to three weeks, and once or twice weekly for another two to three weeks. All but three of the patients improved, reporting rapid relief of pain often within a few hours. Many had a complete resolution of symptoms within a few days (Indust Med Surg, 1957; 26: 20-2). In this instance, many of the patients had bursitis with calcium deposition and x-rays showed that the deposits had been completely disbursed.

Perhaps less dramatically, vitamin C with bioflavonoids also can help to reduce swelling. In one case report, a 38 year old with bursitis of the knee given vitamin C plus 200 mg of citrus bioflavonoids three times per day showed reduced swelling within a day and almost complete resolution of the lesion in three days (Am J Digest Dis, 1955; 22: 41-5).

Other bioflavonoids like quercetin have also been shown to set in motion a process which produces anti inflammatory prostaglandins (Prostaglandins, 1980; 20: 627-37).

Two months before you begin playing tennis, you may wish to start taking supplements of omega-3 fatty acids (4 g per day in divided doses), which also help to change the body's balance of prostaglandins and leukotrienes, and so to markedly reduce inflammation (Wien Klin Wochen-schr, 1986; 98: 104-6). In a tiny study of seven subjects, supplementing with fish oils produced a 48 per cent reduction in the inflammatory products of the pathway which releases arachidonic acid (N Engl J Med, 1985; 312: 1217-23). You need to start taking these supplements two months before you begin playing tennis because it takes that length of time for the supplements to have their effect on body chemistry. Whenever you are taking omega-3 supplements, be sure to take vitamin E as well, which can prevent cellular damage through increased cell membrane peroxidation (Clin Res, 1987; 35: A565).

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What Doctors Don't Tell You What Doctors Don’t Tell You is one of the few publications in the world that can justifiably claim to solve people's health problems - and even save lives. Our monthly newsletter gives you the facts you won't......more
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