A tendon is a thick, fibrous cord that connects muscles to bone in your body. Tendonitis is the painful inflammation of a tendon secondary to injury. The most commonly affected tendons are located in the shoulders, elbows, wrists and heels. Untreated tendonitis can progress to a tendon rupture. Glucosamine is a supplement that is under extensive research to determine its effects on healing tendonitis. Be sure to check with your doctor before you take glucosamine for tendonitis.
Causes of Tendonitis
Tendonitis most commonly affects those who are physically active. Specifically, repetitive movements of a particular joint increase the risk of tendon aggravation. Certain jobs or hobbies, such as painting or playing tennis, require repetitive movements that can cause tendonitis, particularly if muscles surrounding the active joint are weak. Signs of tendonitis include pain around the joint and with movement, tenderness to touch and swelling. If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of tendonitis, you should see your doctor.
Glucosamine is a component of a mucopolysaccharide and chitin, which is the protein found in the exoskeleton of fungus, arthropods and other invertebrates. Glucosamine is available over the counter and is commonly used to treat osteoarthritis or cartilage breakdown secondary to wear and tear of a joint. Side effects associated with glucosamine are generally mild, but itching and gastrointestinal problems have been reported. The effects of glucosamine on insulin are not known. Therefore, if you have diabetes, be sure to check with your doctor before you take glucosamine.
Glucosamine Effects on Tendons
Few studies have been performed on the effects of glucosamine on tendons. However, a study published in the November 2010 edition of "Connective Tissue Research" attempted to determine the effects of glucosamine on finger tendons in rabbits. Glucosamine was given to rabbits for 23 days following finger tendon rupture. They found that tendons healed quicker and stronger in rabbits who were given a glucosamine supplement than in those who were not given glucosamine.
The effects of glucosamine and tendonitis are still poorly understood. Early animal studies have supported the idea that glucosamine supplementation may be effective in healing tendonitis. However, these results cannot be fully generalized to humans. Therefore, ask your doctor if it is safe for you to add glucosamine to your tendonitis treatment program, which should already include ice, anti-inflammatory medications and rest. Immediately stop taking glucosamine if you begin to experience side effects.
Is This an Emergency?
- Drugs.com: Glucosamine
- MayoClinic.com; Tendonitis; Nov. 4, 2009
- Connective Tissue Research; "Effects of sodium-hyaluronate and glucosamine-chondroitin sulfate on remodeling stage of tenotomized superficial digital flexor tendon in rabbits: a clinical, histopathological, ultrastructural, and biomechanical study"; A. Oryan, et al., November 2010