Article by Stéphane Pépin, Acupunctrist
Tennis elbow and medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow) are common problems that respond very well to acupuncture treatments. Epicondylitis is the inflammation of the sheaths and tendons in the elbow due to the overwork of the muscles attached to it. When it occurs on the lateral side of the elbow it is called tennis elbow and when it is located on the medial side it will be called golfer’s elbow.
These terms are confusing because epicondylitis does not necessarily occur after a game of golf or tennis. Generally, it occurs following repetitive movements, sudden shock, or prolonged inadequate position. For example, when a tennis ball does not hit the center of the racket, it requires a sudden contraction of the muscles to maintain the racket straight. This sudden impact and contraction can result in micro-trauma to the tendons or muscles. However, in the clinic, we mostly see this problem occurring in people who work long hours on the computer. One of the main causes is an inadequate work posture.
The most common of these two conditions is lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow. The main symptoms are pain and tenderness on the outer side of the elbow, difficulty in performing movements of squeezing, lifting or screwing, pain that radiates to the wrist and difficulty in fully extending the forearm. In addition to inflammation and / or micro-tears, there are often tight bands and trigger points in the muscles of the forearm that may contribute to pain or even, in some cases, be the root cause of pain.
Epicondylitis is considered by many to be a difficult condition to treat. Conventional treatments include physiotherapy, anti-inflammatories and corticosteroid injection. Too often used as a last resort for the most difficult cases, acupuncture proved to be very effective in the treatment of epicondylitis. With acupuncture needles, the acupuncturist is able to relieve pain, relax muscle tension and disable trigger points, stimulate local circulation and act on the inflammatory process. The results are fast and, depending on the case, we can expect a significant improvement in 3 to 10 treatments. The effectiveness of acupuncture treatment is greatly increased when combined with tuina massage and, in some cases, the use of Chinese herbs.
There are also some things you can do at home to relieve epicondylitis pain and promote healing. Here are a few:
Obviously, to allow the body to heal itself, you will need to avoid as much as possible all the activities and movements that increase the pain.
Relaxing the tension in the muscles of the forearm can greatly help reduce pain and speed up the healing of your epicondylitis. Massaging oneself with the opposite hand can be a bit difficult. An effective and easy way to relax the muscles is to massage them with a tennis ball. You can place the ball on a table and press with your forearm up, palm up, to release the muscle tensions.
Gently stretching the muscles can help them to relax. Hold your wrist and bent with the other hand and gradually straighten your elbow. You should feel the stretch in your forearm. Stretches should be done gently. Aggressive stretches can worsen the problem.
To learn more about what acupuncture can do for you or treat your epicondylitis with acupuncture, book an appointment today