Spring brings extreme weather changes and this may put stress on our tendons and sinews which tend to be tighter at this time of year according to Chinese medicine. The liver Qi is most active in spring and the liver controls the tendons in Chinese medicine, so if a person is stressed or angry, they are more likely to injure themselves. Old injuries may become inflamed with improper and repetitive stress over time. This causes micro-tears where the tendons attach to the bones causing tendonitis, which is usually at the ankle, rotator cuff, wrist and elbow. Bone spurs, Achilles’ heel, frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome and bursitis also fall into this category.
By the time the patient realizes that there is a problem, it’s usually chronic and a stage 2 or 3 sinew injury. In Chinese medicine the initial treatment is gentle massage and acupuncture to help relieve the pain. Acupuncture is gaining acceptance for pain relief (Lee et al., 2013; Ming-Shun et al., 2015).
Diet changes may also help healing. Sour foods such as pickles constrain the liver and tighten the tendons. Overly spiced foods, prawns, hot curries and alcohol may also put pressure on the liver and may increase inflammation in the injured area.
Vigorous exercise must be avoided and as movement returns and pain subsides, gentle stretches are advised to strengthen the area. Herbal plasters and decoctions and herbal pills may help relieve the pain and accelerate the healing alongside acupuncture. These treatments are all designed to help with shortening the duration of the injury.
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