Arthritis, tendonitis, and chronic pain

I know some of us here in Forumosa are getting a bit older - but always young at heart. I am wondering if anyone here deals with chronic inflammation and pain from arthritis or tendonitis and how you treat it in Taiwan?

Although not 100% related, I know that Taiwan has a bad past reputation for dealing with pain for post-op situations, but maybe this has improved? And by osmosis, dealing with chronic pain and inflammation type conditions has improved as well?

I am wondering about this in that I will be having to deal with this when we move in 2024, and wanted to start to get some ideas.

Yoga and meditation.
A good anti-inflammatory diet.

1 Like

I do all three. Try dealing with multiple bone and tendon excesses due to traumatic injury - these things are not enough, and in some cases impossible.

Diet would be first.

Avoid OTC painkillers, I’ve seen studies that show they make inflammation worse in the long run as they harm gut bacteria.

1 Like

There aren’t a lot of other options. I have been trying CBD ointments that have helped somewhat, but often only ibuprofen, and if so t gets really bad, codeine, are all that helps.

And some of these options are not available in Taiwan at all, so I am interested in what people with these problems are doing to cope.

When you are woken up by pain in the middle of the night, only certain things help.


Although I appreciate the help with general lifestyle advice, I am really most interested in what people who have these problems are doing in Taiwan for these issues when it comes to treatment.

1 Like

Do massages help you?

NHI can cover what is basically a massage treatment for chronic pain conditions.

Where do you suffer from tendonitis? Treatments can vary radically depending on which tendons are afflicted.

My case is a bit unusual. I had a complete distal bicep detachment at work. Following the surgery, it did not heal well, and the tendon is thickened and screwed up in general with limited mobility and a fair amount of inflammation and pain.

Ugh, sorry can’t help you with that one. That’s why I asked. Obviously a foot issue is completely different from a knee, and in your case sudden acute injury (I assume) and subsequent surgery to your arm. Good luck.

If it helps, codeine is OTC in Taiwan.

I have found a sauna to help my inflammation and tendonitis. I go to one sometimes in Taiwan when my body needs it. There are many and these spas have food inside as well. They are also brothels but that is optional.

Oh man, a sauna sounds nice. We are at 6 weeks complete lockdown here, and we haven’t had gym or sauna access for almost a year.

Omega 3s can help as well. If you get fish oil, make sure you get high quality ones. The low quality ones don’t do much and can be potentially harmful.

Some people have also found success with fasting daily for 16 hours. I have found that to be helpful for me for many things and do it myself.

1 Like

Bicep tendon tear involving the long head proximal area (rotator cuff) is more usual than Distal area (elbow). Do you have a popey sign (swollen dislocated bicep muscle ) Surgery for re anchoring the tendon with a bone screw and tendon suture needs to be followed up with physical therapy to regain full range of motion of the elbow joint (extension exercises) for fear of not able to have straight arm motion in the future. Find a physical therapist to help you.

1 Like

Since you had surgery already, it sounds like you may have built up some scar tissue. For that specifically, a combination of chiropractics and massage therapy is helpful. Finding a good practitioner is the key. I’ve heard physical therapy is great for some, but personally have never found it to be that helpful - maybe because we’ve never found a good therapist using the public health system.

My husband Rob (pseudonym) has rheumatoid arthritis, and unfortunately he’s basically been surviving on tramadol for the last 4 years. He’s finally managed to cut the dose down a little this year, but it was very difficult.
Here’s a list of things we’ve tried:

  • Tramadol: when we moved to Taiwan 3 yrs ago, he was prescribed it by a rheumatologist at NTU. After a year and a half, the rheumatologist told Rob he was not legally allowed to prescribe any more tramadol to him, and referred him to a pain specialist. He has a decent relationship with the pain specialist and so far has been able to get any meds he needs from him.

  • Celebrex: for RA. He still takes this

  • Imipramine: Rob said taking this made him feel really weird. Got off of it quickly.

  • Lyrica: kind of helped in the beginning, but slowly became ineffective. Stopped.

  • Naproxen: an NSAID I’d recommend for people who have moderate pain but don’t want to escalate to an opioid yet. This is not available in Taiwan sadly. Ibuprofen is, but is slightly less effective for a shorter time. We try to get naproxen from overseas and bring it in. Edit: now that I think about it, you might be able get a prescription for it , but it’s not first line

  • Chiropractics: my husband looked for a good chiropractor for a long time before he found his guy - he goes to see him ~2x a month, and he works on him for 2 hours, sometimes even longer. He does a lot of manipulation techniques. Rob also does massage twice a month cause the expense of the chiro appts adds up.

  • acupuncture: for some reason, we’ve never been able to get good results from acupuncture in Taiwan. All the practitioners seem to just want to put tiny needles in his head, and tell him to get off all Western medications. The complete opposite of helpful. Acupuncture worked better for him in the Bay Area than it has in Taiwan.

  • CBD oil: I recommend this. You can order this in Taiwan, take it sublingually, and it is helpful for relaxing the body and taking the edge off the pain. It’s just not enough for Rob right now personally, but I can see this being a good option for some.

  • weed: we’ve used this in the past before moving to Taiwan. Probably the most effective natural option. I haven’t ruled out looking for it here if things get really bad or he has an acute episode. Medical marijuana can’t come to Taiwan soon enough.

The other items such as yoga, exercise, sauna, antiinflammatory diet, I think are good as a general rule. I’ll try looking into omega-3.

I don’t have pain on any joint at the moment but I do have recurrent problems with some of them and one of my tendons, due to overuse I presume. And due to they being shitty (I will have a word with the creator about this if he ever opens the door to me up there).

I started adding chia seeds a while back but TBH I’m not really sure about its effectiveness. What I can tell you is that the vegetal omega 3 is inferior to the one found in animals when it comes to absorption (same problem as calcium), and that if you are going to use them you want to smash them well to improve the absorption.

Hydration is super important, so stretching is.

I know these advices are not exactly what you were asking about, but I hope they can help to avoid more damage and pain.

1 Like

I was injured in June 2019. Surgery was within the next week. I have had nearly 18 months of physical therapy following it. Nothing has really helped much in relation to pain and inflammation - I have close to full strength, and full extension and flexion (rotation I have issues) but per my orthopedic specialist / surgeon, my bicep tendon as well as tissue surrounding the screw site has hyper-developed tendon tissue. It is not scar tissue. My body reacts strangely to bone trauma - my left index finger was broken five years or so ago, and it also did not heal properly (also excessive bone regrowth).

@Lasagna Thanks a ton. This is exactly the sort of information I was hoping for in this thread.

1 Like

That’s weird. I know people that have had Tramadol prescriptions from the same clinic for a long, long time.

Huh. Yeah, I’m not really sure. Were those private clinics?