I'll Start with ygduf's question about NSAIDS. He asked:
So, do anti-inflammatories help or harm? Like, is ibuprofen masking pain and causing injury, or reducing swelling and thereby preventing further friction/irritation.
This is a tough one, since the answer is "I don't know".
IMO, for an ACUTE injury, the standard treatment is Rest, Ice, NSAIDS (ibuprofen), compression, and elevation. Basically, DECREASING the inflammatory response.
It gets more difficult when a tendon/muscle problem becomes more chronic. The current literature suggests that in that situation, INCREASING the inflammatory response (and the associated growth factors) is more effective. That is why treatments like PRP (platelet rich plasma) and needle tenotomies are being used more and more. When we do those treatments we tell people to stop all NSAIDS and asprin during the healing time.
Now, in point of fact, most chronic "tendonitis" (in quotes because histologically, there is no such thing as tendonitis) is merely a problem with form. For example: I have chronic L Peroneal Tendon pain when I run more than 5K. The problem is not my tendon. The problem is my running form. I need a running coach to analyze my gait pattern, and I will fix the problem. I'm just too lazy to do it. Same thing with IT band pain in runners/cyclists. Change your gait pattern/pedal stroke and you will fix the overuse problem.