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 Herbal Medicine: Bursitis & Tendinitis 
Bursitis: Acute or chronic inflammation of a bursa. Tendinitis: Inflammation of the lining of the tendon sheath (tenosynovitis) and of the enclosed tendon (tendinitis).

A bursa is a pocket of connective tissue found adjacent to a joint. Lined by a smooth inner surface, it facilitates the gliding movements of muscles and tendons over bony prominences. Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa which results in pain, tenderness, stiffness and in some cases, swelling and redness. Any bursa can be affected by the inflammatory process, but bursitis involving the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee are most common.

Although the cause of this condition is unknown, repetitive direct pressure over a bursa can be a predisposing factor. In particular, certain activities or occupations are associated with specific example because of the nature of the physical stress placed on the bursa: e.g. housemaid's knee (kneeling), student's elbow (leaning). Shoulder bursitis, the commonest type, is characterized by an aching pain localized on the outside of the top of the shoulder. Pain is intensified by lifting and backwardly rotating the arm. Typically, there is stiffness in the morning which diminishes with heat and routine activities.

Both tendinitis and tenosynovitis occur spontaneously or in association with injury, work and sports activities, certain types of arthritis or infection. As with bursitis, the shoulder is most commonly affected. The attachment of the biceps tendon at the shoulder is especially vulnerable to this condition. Bicipital tendinitis is manifested by aching along the biceps muscle that radiates up to the shoulder and down to the forearm. The pain is worse with movement. Among the other common locations for tendinitis are the elbow, wrist, hand, knee, and ankle.

Actions indicated for the processes behind this disease:
often help, but the choice of appropriate anti-rheumatic depends upon its other properties, in turn governed by the interpretation of the patients needs.
Anti-Inflammatories will be important as the primary action for symptomatic relief.
Anti-Spasmodics help in easing associated local muscular tension.
Circulatory Stimulants & Rubefacients contribute by increasing local blood circulation.
Analgesics may help. However, the legal herbal analgesics do very little in such cases. Pain relief is best achieved through the use of anti-inflammatories and anti-spasmodics.

System Support
Connective tissue may benefit from using herbs that strengthen it. The practitioner must attempt to identify broader contributing factors, such as general stress.

Specific Remedies
No true specifics are described in the herbal traditions of Europe and North America.

One possible prescription:
Salix spp. 2 parts
Viburnum opulus 2 parts
Apium graveolens 2 parts
Zanthoxylum americanum 1 part to 5ml of tincture
taken 3 times a day
Anti-Spasmodic rub:
Lobelia inflata
Viburnum opulus
equal parts of tincture rubbed into the painful muscles as needed

In this combination we are combining anti-rheumatics that provide these relevant actions:
  • salicylate anti-inflammatory: Salix spp.
  • general anti-inflammatory: Apium graveolens
  • anti-spasmodics: Lobelia inflata, Viburnum opulus, Apium graveolens
  • peripheral vaso-dilator: Zanthoxylum americanum
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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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