A derivative of a common spice found in Indian curries offers hope of a new treatment for tendinitis, an international team of researchers has shown.
They have found that curcumin, a derivative of turmeric, may help reduce inflammation associated with tendinitis.
What is Tendinitis?
Tendons, the tough cords of fibrous connective tissue that join muscles to bones, are essential for movement because they transfer the force of muscle contraction to bones. However, they are prone to injury, particularly in athletes who may overstretch themselves and overuse their joints. Tendinitis (or tendonitis) is a form of tendon inflammation, which causes pain and tenderness near to joints and is particularly common in shoulders, elbows, knees, hips, heels or wrists.
Other examples of common tendon disease include tennis and golfer’s elbow and Achilles tendinitis. The global incidence of tendinitis is on the increase in line with the rise in ageing and inflammatory diseases. It is also linked to other arthritic and rheumatic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or metabolic diseases such as diabetes.
Conventional Tendinitis Treatments
Common drug treatments to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in tendinitis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as aspirin or ibuprofen. In more serious cases of tendon injury, steroid injections may be given directly into the tendon sheath to control pain and enable physical therapy to start.
However, NSAIDS and steroids are associated with undesired side effects including stomach ulcers, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, headache, diarrhea, constipation, drowsiness and fatigue.
Learn more about NSAID side effects in Why Medication Can Be Dangerous to Your Health
Consequently, there is an acute need for new treatments with fewer debilitating side effects.
Now researchers have shown that curcumin, which gives the spice turmeric its trademark bright yellow color, can be used to suppress biological mechanisms that spark inflammation in tendon diseases. The study, to be published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, was done by researchers from The University of Nottingham and Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.
Curcumin or Turmeric May Help Tendinitis and Arthritis
Dr Ali Mobasheri who co-led the research, said: “Our research is not suggesting that curry, turmeric or curcumin are cures for inflammatory conditions such as tendinitis and arthritis. However, we believe that it could offer scientists an important new lead in the treatment of these painful conditions through nutrition. Further research into curcumin, and chemically-modified versions of it, should be the subject of future investigations and complementary therapies aimed at reducing the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the only drugs currently available for the treatment of tendinitis and various forms of arthritis.”
This latest research centers on curcumin, a key ingredient of the spice turmeric, which has been used for centuries in traditional Indian or ‘Ayurvedic’ medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent and remedy for symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome and other disorders. More recently, studies have linked curcumin to potential uses in treating arthritis and a range of rheumatic diseases.
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Reference: Journal of Biological Chemistry. Published Online June 13, 2011.
“Curcumin Modulates Nuclear Factor κB (NF-κB)-mediated Inflammation in Human Tenocytes in Vitro,” Constanze Buhrmann, Ali Mobasheri, Franziska Busch, Constance Aldinger, Ralf Stahlmann, Azadeh Montaseri, and Mehdi Shakibaei