Tennis Elbow

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Tennis Elbow” is the most common chronic pain condition affecting the elbow. Despite the name, only 5-10% of sufferers actually play tennis.

Tennis elbow is also known as

  • Lateral epicondylalgia
  • Lateral epicondylitis
  • Lateral epicondylosis

How does it develop?

Tennis elbows is a painful condition that presents with pain in the outer elbow and usually involves inflammation of the tendons that attach to the boney area on the head of the humerus.  Usually a repetitive stress injury, tennis elbow is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles, creating strain and tears in the muscle and tendons.

Often I see this condition come about from people who have repetitive occupations or hobbies. Carpenters, gardeners and manual labourers often develop both tennis and golfer’s elbow type pain. This is due to constant lifting and moving of heavy objects which puts too much strain on the elbow joint. Personally, I first started to experience elbow pain after lifting and constantly carrying my very clingy daughter. Like many overuse injuries, the onset was gradual.

Symptoms of Tennis elbow:

  • A slow onset, weakness of the forearm
  • Tenderness of the lateral (outer) elbow
  • Pain travelling down the forearm.
  • Pain when lifting or gripping anything heavier than a coffee cup
  • Pain may become worse by rotating the forearm.
  • The pain exacerbated by overuse, fatigue or wet weather

Note

“Golfers Elbow” occurs on the inner side of the elbow and is much less common than tennis elbow. Both injuries respond well to a course of regular acupuncture.

Standard treatment of tennis elbow

More and more doctors are recommending cortisone injections. Cortisone is a steroid with strong anti-inflammatory effects. In most cases, it can provide long term relief, but I regularly see patients who experience only short term gains. If cortisone is unsuccessful your doctor may then refer you to a specialist for further investigation.

Can Acupuncture help my Tennis elbow?

We see elbow pain regularly at BNH, both acute and chronic cases.  The consensus is that the longer the joint has been inflamed, the slower it is to fully recover. The point is that the sooner you can seek out acupuncture treatment the better and quicker the outcomes.  For the best results, you will normally require a number of acupuncture treatments. The number of sessions required will be established following an initial assessment of the injured elbow. Aside from resting the elbow, acupuncture is very good at relieving elbow pain for good.

Research

Acupuncture therapy for patients suffering from tennis elbow has shown itself to be an excellent alternative to steroid injections. Twenty-one out of 34 patients who were treated with acupuncture became much better-completely free of pain. Many of them had previously been given one or more steroid injections without improvement.

Acupuncture Therapy for Tennis Elbow

Treating the whole person

The most significant benefit of choosing acupuncture, rather than other kinds of needle-based therapies, is that your acupuncturist can assess your  whole-person signs and symptoms and tailor a whole-body treatment plan for you. Acupuncture embraces a holistic approach to the treatment of tennis elbow.

 

Prevention

• Warm-up – before you start work or sporting activities take a few minutes to warm the muscles of hands, forearm, upper arms and shoulders. This can be as simple as gently massaging these areas.

• Stretch – Develop a daily stretching routine that targets the muscles of the hands, forearms, upper arms and shoulders.

• Rest – Take days off from activities that can aggravate the condition. If you perform repetitive tasks that involve gripping or typing during the week try and avoid these movements and tasks on your days off.

If the pain from your tennis elbow continues to persist gives us a call to find out how we might be able to help you.

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Katherine Maslen

Author

Hey, I’m Katherine Maslen, naturopath, nutritionist, host of The Shift podcast, author and renegade for health.
Since completing 2 bachelor degrees in health science over 12 years ago, I’ve been helping peeps just like you to be their best through awesome health. I’ve spent most of this time one on one in clinical practice – in the trenches with my clients to navigate them through the minefield that is imperfect health.

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