Tendonitis Product Reviews

Objective, no-punches-pulled reviews of various tendonitis products — NO AFFILIATE LINKS, just the truth for once!

The Osmo Patch is an Australian product developed by Dr. Danniel Jacques, who, unlike a lot of people in the field of tendonitis relief, actually has a degree in Medical Science.

The “Osmo” in Osmo patch comes from the term osmotic pressure, which is a phenomenon by which your body’s cells can move fluid in and out of themselves using differences in solute concentrations. What this means in lay terms is simple: if there is more water inside a cell than in the tissue around the cell, the cell can push it out up to the point that there is as much in the surrounding tissue as in the cell itself. This doesn’t require much in the way of what we normally think of as “work”; it happens more or less automatically all time within your body to achieve various fluid balances.

Dr. Jacques has taken advantage of this phenomenon to create a patch that basically draws water out of your tissues and into the patch itself, thereby reducing the swelling associated with inflammation.

There are a lot of advantages to this sort of treatment. You avoid the risk of surgery, as it’s completely non-invasive. It’s easy to use; you just slap a patch on the affected area and then go to sleep as it works. The treatment is completely natural, and isn’t prohibitively expensive.

The science behind the idea is good (the osmosis phenomenon has been known since the mid-1700s) and the patch will appeal to those who prefer natural home remedies to seeing a doctor. The only two question marks are: how much is it, and does it really work for tendon pain? At about US$40 for ten patches, it doesn’t seem too bad – four bucks a patch is certainly cheaper than a visit to the doctor to get your knee drained, for example. But when it comes to tendon pain, there still seems to be some question. I notice that among the many testimonials given on the site, there was only one for tendonitis, and even in that case it wasn’t clear that the customer actually had a tendon problem. Swelling is one of the classic symptoms of tendonitis, so it makes sense that the patch would work, but it still would be a little more confidence inspiring to see a few more testimonials for this particular problem.

Final Rating: 8.1 The Osmo Patch is based on good science and has good anecdotal reviews. The main issue would be that it is something you’re going to have to continue to buy if you like it – the patch only provides localized temporary relief via the draining of fluid, not a real cure for the underlying problem.

The Regenerative Nutrition website lists three supplements that are supposed to help heal tendonitis. They are MSM, serrapeptase and Organic Silicon G5. Let’s take a look at all three.

MSM: Many websites list MSM as being helpful for tendon pain, and there is some evidence that it has a pain-dampening effect. It also can help promote the formation of new “tissue”, which the RN website is quick to note. However, the studies on MSM have all shown that it works for cartilage formation, and tendons are made of collagen. In other words, while MSM may be good for joints (ie. arthritis) it doesn’t have any particular effect on tendons. Unfortunately, the RN website claims that “…MSM is a perfect natural remedy for Tendonitis”, and this just isn’t true.

Serrapeptase: Spelled in several different ways and also known as seaprose, serrapeptase is one of a class of supplements known as proteolytic enzymes. Proteolytic enzymes are basically protein scavengers, and when taken on an empty stomach they can definitely help to repair damaged tendons. Long-term tendon pain involves the collagen fibers getting stuck together in clumps, and the substance sticking them together is excess protein. So this would be a very good supplement to get if you’re suffering from long-term tendon pain (which will likely be tendonosis, not tendonitis). However, it’s unlikely that serrapeptase alone will actually cure long-term tendon pain; it should be used in conjunction with some type of rehabilitation protocol (specific exercises, etc.) for best effect.

Organic Silicon G5: Organic silica has been touted as a miracle cure for an amazingly wide range of conditions and diseases. However, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support these claims. In the case of tendon pain, I could only find one small study from 1974 (
Schwartz, K. and S. C. Chen (1974) A bound form of silicon as a constituent of collagen. Federation Proceedings 33: 704). Even this study isn’t really much, since it only proves that silicon is one constituent of collagen, not that taking extra amounts heals the tissue when there’s a problem. So we’re left with hearsay.

Overall, the RN website nicely put together and they do offer a guarantee for their products. But there seems to be an awful lot of anecdotal “evidence” for their products, and a shortage of real research into what they’re selling.

Final score: 5.0

Tendlite is a small, very portable device that’s about the size of a roll of nickels. It has a powerful LED light that is used to send light waves beneath your skin and into tendons that are experiencing pain. The “powerful” part is important, as most similar (and cheaper) devices lack sufficient wattage to really get the light down into your tissues where it can do some good.

This type of treatment, known as phototherapy, has both science and anecdotal evidence going for it. First, phototherapy has been used worldwide for over 30 years and the Tendlite in particular has been FDA cleared (which is different from being “approved”). So it’s not really a question of whether or not it works, but of how best to use it. LEDs are commonly employed to relieve inflammation in many areas of the body. However, the real benefit for tendons in particular is that LED light helps to promote the formation of collagen, which is what tendons are made of. Oddly enough this fact isn’t stressed much on their website. But long-term tendon pain is rarely simply inflammation, and generally will require rebuilding the collagen structure of the tendon. While it’s true that an otherwise healthy body will do this on its own after a while, in this respect Tendlite has few competitors.

On the anecdotal side, 75% of Amazon reviews are 5-star. However, this figure might be inflated a bit because of Tendlite’s policy of requesting a positive review from anyone who orders replacement batteries from the company. (On the other hand, I guess you can assume that people who reorder are satisfied with the product.)

The Tendlite unit sells for $185 on the company’s website (actually ten bucks less than on Amazon). I don’t really like the marketing here; the order button shows a “discounted” price of $185 from the “retail price” of $267. But a little further below it says that Tendlite is not available in stores. If it’s not available in stores, what is this “retail price”? Don’t be fooled by this or think that you’re really getting a discount. The price is the price and that’s it.

Marketing tactics aside, however, the device works as advertised. While no one type of therapy works for everyone, along with ultrasound, LED therapy has a good scientific backing and has been proven to work. And Tendlite comes with a full guarantee if it turns out that you don’t experience improvement. If you can afford the $185 price tag, this may well be the device that will heal your tendons. But I would recommend trying other, lower-cost options first.

Final rating: 8.8 Tendlite is a well-designed device that will do the job. The only sticking point is the price, which is considerably higher than most other products reviewed here.

Mendmeshop sells three products that aim at relieving tendon pain: an ultrasound machine; their “Inferno Wrap”, which provides heat to injured bodyparts; and the “Freezie Wrap”, which is basically a high-tech ice-pack.

The two wraps don’t really seem to be anything special… Despite the enthusiastic sales copy (“Ice pack ‘burns’ are so frequent and damaging there are law firms who [sic] specialize in ice pack injury cases.” Yeaaaah, okay.), when you come right down to it you can get exactly the same therapeutic effect from a regular ice-pack or heated towel. The products do seem to be very well-made, and are probably more comfortable than a do-it-yourself job, but whether that’s worth the extra money is a question. A knee Freezie-wrap will run you more than $50; the Inferno-wrap is about $165.00. That’s a lot of money when you can get virtually the same effect from heating up a damp towel in your microwave for free.

One valid point about the Freezie Wrap is that you can wrap it more tightly than a regular ice-pack and still have the cold gel directly over the point of injury (a difficulty with regular ice-packs), but then again you could just as well maintain pressure with a cupped hand. Price versus convenience, I guess. Another good point is that Mendme has specially designed wraps for hard-to-wrap places like the shoulder, and in that case it might be worth the extra money. For a lower-back or arm wrap, not so much.

I don’t like the pseudo-science that crops up here and there on the website (Mendme seems to have no real idea of what “heat” actually is, among some other issues) but they get most of it right and since what’s on sale are products that are unlikely to cause a significant injury, I suppose there’s no real harm done. There is also a page that lists contra-indications, which is both lengthy and thorough, and that’s definitely a point in Mendmeshop’s favor.

In contrast to the wraps, the ultrasound kit ($264) offers a viable therapy that is impossible to duplicate at home without special equipment. However, there are other ultrasound units on the market, most notably Sonic Relief, which I reviewed previously, that sell for far less money. Mendme also sells several accessory items and packs, one of which costs close to $500. Admittedly, this includes two ultrasound units, but why anyone would need an extra one is beyond me. There is also a gel-warmer that goes for an additional $150…but again, why would someone pay this much money when they could just stick the gel in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes before therapy?

The good points of the Mendme unit are (1) portability and possibly (2) the special lavender gel that they sell. It is true that ultrasound will transmit the properties of various substances into the tissues lying beneath the skin, but lavender itself seems to have only very weak scientific evidence (see for instance this study ) that it works to inhibit inflammation, as is claimed on the site. Still, it’s possible that this could have some additional healing effect. As for whether the portability factor is worth paying twice as much as for a similar Sonic Relief unit, I imagine it will depend on the customer’s particular circumstances, but for most people with tendon pain, having a unit available at home will probably be enough.

All of the products on Mendme come with a 60-day guarantee, so it makes it easy to try them out. However, in the event of a return you will be on the hook for postage charges and any bottles of ultrasound gel that you’ve opened (and that gel is heavy), so it would probably be best to think about it as a “90% guarantee”. Still good, but not totally risk-free.

Finally, there are several Thai-character-looking icons at the bottom of the Mendme site that are actually links to other sites. A couple of them go to aidyourtendon dot com and aidmytendon dot com, which offer exactly the same products.

Final rating: 7.8 for the ultrasound unit, 5.0 for the two packs. Mendme offers good, well-designed products that suffer from being egregiously overpriced.

Total Tendonitis Relief is a pill that contains a whole plethora of herbal substances (nine in all) that are either anti-inflammatories, COX-2 inhibitors or Substance P inhibitors. If you don’t know what the last two are, basically, the herbal extracts prevent pain signals from being transmitted from your problem area to your brain by interrupting the nerve pathway. The result: you feel no pain.

I’m sure that this product works as advertised; in other words, I’m sure that unless you have really extreme tendon pain it will stop that pain from happening. But here’s the problem: if your tendon really is damaged, the pain is a signal to your body to stop using it. Interrupt that signal, and you run a very real risk of worsening the problem without even knowing that you’re doing so. (How can you tell if you’re hurting yourself if there is no pain to warn you?)

The TTR website is careful to use the word “relief” rather than “cure”. And it only uses the word “solution” when referring to the symptoms of tendonitis, not the underlying cause. So, credit where credit is due, they’re not lying. TTR will relieve your symptoms…and will do nothing to actually cure your tendon condition. However, in the numerous testimonials it’s clear that the people writing in are getting confused about what’s happening in their bodies, because they often confuse “relief” with “remedy”. And this is worrying.

If you want a really good pain reliever, TTR may be just the ticket. And their guarantee is second to none: you can return any of their product any time for a complete refund. But–gushing testimonials aside–if you’re interested in actually curing whatever is causing your tendon pain, then I recommend avoiding this product (and others like it). Pain is a valuable signal that your body uses to let you know something’s wrong. Circumvent it at your own risk.

Final score: 5.0

Tendonitisandprp (dot com) is a site from Nathan Wei, MD, who is selling an ebook that details various treatments for tendonitis. The ebook costs $39.95, which isn’t too bad, but…it doesn’t give you a cure for your tendon pain. What it does give you is an overview of various treatments for long-term tendonitis (more generally referred to as tendonosis, although that word is not mentioned anywhere), apparently all with the objective of comparing them unfavorably to PRP…which, at somewhere around five hundred non-insurance-covered dollars per injection, just happens to be the technique that the good doctor practices himself.

PRP stands for Platelet-Rich Plasma injections and is gaining a lot of anecdotal evidence as a legitimate and effective technique for dealing with tendon pain. (The real science jury is still out.) But why anyone should pay $40 for a PDF file in order to learn that is beyond me. There are literally hundreds of websites where you can find the information for free, and many of them are from highly respected medical institutions such as Johns Hopkins.

Apparently the owner if the site realizes this as well. The sales page spares no expense trying to make the idea of paying forty bucks for free information that still won’t cure you as appealing as possible. There are no less than four “P.S.”s, the last one of which runs three full paragraphs. The first one says “This information will put you on par with any MD! You will never be the victim of a snow job again!”. The last one says that the good doctor won’t be keeping this great offer up for much longer (a lie; the site was created in 2009 and as of this writing was last updated in Jan. 2011) because he’s “already been told by some of my colleagues that they’re angry I’m disclosing these secrets and they’re even more upset that I’m offering it so cheaply.”

Yeah, uh huh. Bottom line: The info is good, but why pay for it? There’s nothing in the ebook that you can’t find on your own in about ten minutes, and buying it will put you onto an email list that Dr. Wei, in his privacy policy, says can and probably will be used for absolutely anything. Also, you have no recourse if you don’t like it. From that page:

Upon request we provide site visitors with access to no information that we have collected and that we maintain about them.
Upon request we offer visitors no ability to have factual inaccuracies corrected in information that we maintain about them

Talk about a snow job. Dr. Wei may be a good physician. But as an e-marketer he’s a sleazebag and should be avoided. Final score: 1.0

Tendon Academy is collection of videos that takes the customer through several lessons that aim to relieve elbow tendon pain. Let’s start with the positive: This site has a lot of good information. The difference between tendonitis and tendonosis, which is probably the most common misconception about tendon pain out there, is brought up, explained and thoroughly discussed. And the series of videos covers everything from anatomy to various types of therapies and stretches to specific exercises for the elbow. (I especially liked the part that explained how scar tissue can form on tendons.)

Allen Willette, the owner of the site, is a neuromuscular therapist who has had a successful practice for the last half-decade or so and undoubtedly knows a lot about various forms of physical pain. However, neuromuscular therapy is a form of massage, one that deals mainly with working on trigger points to relieve discomfort. Being a NMT practitioner does not automatically mean that one has any particular insight into tendon pain–and sure enough, some of the treatment options and “cures” given by Willette don’t seem to hold up under scrutiny. In particular, he offers stretches as a way to relieve tendonosis, and as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, while stretches are good for preventing tendon pain, there is no good scientific evidence to show that they cure the pain once it’s there.

But here is my main problem with Tendon Academy; there is so much emphasis on the sales process that one tends to become a little suspicious about ordering the product. There are three introductory videos, but you have to give a name and email to view them. (This will enter you into an auto-responder sequence, so you will start receiving emails from Willette.) Just the first video took eight minutes; three of them together means close to half an hour of time just to get through the opening credits, as it were. One dollar gets you a one-week trial membership, but if you look at the fine print it also automatically enrolls you in the $37/month auto-renewing “Gold” membership. Depending on how long your therapy takes, this could end up costing quite a bit, and it’s only with the gold membership that you get access to the actual treatment videos.

Willette obviously had a professional do the sales copy (he doesn’t seem to be as good with English himself, judging from his ebook; he confuses “protean” with protein, for example), and no psychological pressure-point is missed in trying to get the reader to sign up. I’m all for entrepreneurship, and of course all the sites reviewed here have some sort of sales pitch, but there’s a point at which you need to take a step back and think about what you’re going to be getting for your money. Willette’s approach could potentially cure you of tendon pain in less than a month. But there is a question of why someone should sign up at one website for a service that could be had more quickly and cheaply elsewhere. Why would you opt into a program that (a) only addresses one sort of tendon problem, (b) is offered by someone who is not actually a tendon specialist and (c) opens you up to a potentially unlimited amount of billing (and once you’re billed there is no money-back option) when you can get more focused service from other sites without these issues?

Final verdict: 7.0 Willette’s videos cover a lot of important points and offer several possible treatment options for your pain. But these can be had for less time and money on other sites, and the lack of a money-back guarantee really hurts his credibility.

It’s a little difficult for me to review this product, which is a handbook + DVD showing people different stretching exercises.  Why?  Well, on one hand, stretching is really important, and most people don’t do enough of it.  So any effort to get people to stretch is good.  Furthermore, Brad Walker seems to know the subject quite well.  On the other hand, he’s written a short series of articles about Achilles tendonitis, and he doesn’t seem to know tendonitis nearly as well.

The series has three parts: first is an overview of Achilles tendonitis, and second is what to do for immediate treatment if you get it.  Both of these sections are pretty standard, and a decent starting point for someone who doesn’t know much about the condition.  The third part talks about rehabbing the Achilles, and this is where Walker gets into some trouble.  It lists four “crucial” steps to perform: increase range of motion, stretch and strengthen, balance and proprioception, and finally plyometrics and sports-specific exercises.  None of these are objectionable in and of themselves, but some of the specifics are a little weird.

For example, foam rolling is given as an “exercise”.  And patients are encouraged to try wobble boards, stability cushions and so on as part of their rehabilitation.  Sorry, but if you have a damaged Achilles tendon, the very last thing you want to do is put your entire bodyweight on it on an unstable surface.  That’s just asking for re-injury.  Also, the recommendations for isometric exercises and stretching are problematic.  It’s not that these are bad ideas, it’s that neither of them have any scientific basis showing that they help to heal tendonitis.  Of course Walker wants to sell his stretching book and video, but some of the persuasion copy gets to be a bit much.  For example, he says:

Looking at photos and watching videos on your computer is fine, but to really take advantage of all the stretching exercises on offer, in the comfort of your own home, grab a copy of The Stretching Handbook & DVD.

It’s a little unclear how watching a DVD–on your computer, in your home–is preferable to watching videos–on your computer, in your home…especially when the book+DVD is going to cost you fifty bucks.  But there is a 90-day guarantee on the product, and certainly it gives a wealth of information on stretching.  It just seems like this is a case where a particular technique (stretching) that is good for some things (increasing range of motion and flexibility, decreasing joint pain, etc.) is suddenly supposed to be good for another, completely unrelated condition (Achilles tendonitis).

Final score: 5.1 (about an 8 for stretching and free info; 2 for actual applicability to healing tendonitis)

This is a site that is basically a sales letter, supplemented with a “FAQ” that only exists to make ordering easier.  Anne West, PhD, claims to be able to heal not only tendonitis, but any pain at all, for only $36.95…plus a couple of bonuses, if you order by midnight.

Uh huh.  I haven’t ordered this product myself, and I don’t really intend to.  Ms. West pulls a lot of tricks to try to increase her credibility, but when you read the small print at the bottom of the letter it turns out that her prominently displayed PhD is in religion, and after going on and on about how doctors aren’t “god”, how their treatments are “worthless” and so on, there’s a small and abashed disclaimer that says that, um, you really should consult one before trying her ebook.

The claim made is that her techniques will heal any pain, and without surgery, drugs or exercise.  After surfing around a bit, I am 99% sure that what’s on offer is a spiritual self-healing text, complete with positive thinking, freedom from negative ions and all that other New-Age stuff.  If that’s your cup of tea, great.  This product might help you, it’s certainly not expensive, and it comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.  But if you want something a little more scientific, I’d give this one a pass.  There isn’t a bit of research anywhere around to back it up, and Ms. West seems to be more of an expert on marketing than she is on healing.  She has no less than eleven cookie-cutter sites for everything you can imagine: back pain, lower back pain, neck pain, back and neck pain…  You get the idea.  In fact, the tendonitis site itself seems to have been mass-produced from the buttock pain site, since there’s a typo in the final graphic that says, “You will be downloading and learning from this breakthrough information within just a few minutes… and using it to eliminate your buttock pain forever!”

This for an ebook that’s supposed to be about tendonitis.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t generally get pain in my butt tendons. And if I did, I’m pretty sure I’d order something from the “don’t get ripped off” list (at the top of the right-hand column on this page) than anything from Dr. West.

Final score: 3.5

Joshua Tucker is a Certified Massage Therapist who has a particular interest in tendonitis and repetitive stress injuries.  He owns and runs the massive Tendonitis Expert website, which has scores of pages on every aspect you can think of relating to tendonitis.  In addition to his CMT training, Tucker mentions Oriental medicine on his site and seems to have a naturopathic bent to his thinking.

I’m all for natural remedies, but honestly speaking  this is his main weakness.  While he has a wealth of experience in treating various conditions, much of the advice on his pages is either widely available elsewhere (“Ice whatever part of your body hurts”) or else is lacking in any sort of real scientific basis.  He recommends magnesium supplements to a reader, for example, and has an entire page devoted to “Magnesium for Tendonitis”, but there is virtually nothing in the scientific literature that supports this idea.  Many of his other recommendations are the same – in particular, his idea that icing a bodypart will result in “new blood” getting to that bodypart is just weird.  Ice constricts blood vessels, slowing bloodflow, not increasing it, and this effect is very well documented in the literature.  (See for example this study.)  Also, all of the blood in your body is continuously circulating, so none of it is any “newer” than any other.

On the other hand, icing is definitely one of the classic treatments for tendonitis, and it does work to reduce inflammation.  I like the unusually aggressive way Tucker goes about it, with complete immersion ice baths for most bodyparts.  So I’m sure that he gets good results in his practice, even if his technical understanding of what’s going on is lacking.

Bottom line, there is a lot of good information on the Tendonitis Expert website…and there is a lot of bad information on the Tendonitis Expert website.  If you want a personal response to a question Tucker’s blog is a good way to go, and at $39.99 for a CD and $19.99 for an ebook, his products aren’t expensive.  But the information you receive may be a little suspect depending on your issue.  Also, although his products have a “money back guarantee”, I wasn’t able to find anything on the site that specified what that guarantee was or the time-frame involved.

Final score: 5.5