Lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow” as it is commonly know is a painful condition experienced by many people. In most instances the condition is caused by overuse or strain of the small muscles and or tendons that connect to the outside of the upper forearm (the lateral epicondyle). When injured pain tends to be further experienced when grasping objects and/or rotating the forearm. Neck pain and dysfunction can also be involved.
There are several approaches to correcting lateral epicondylitis. At Freedom Chinese Medicine in Melbourne, we apply some combination of acupuncture, massage, Chinese herbal medicine and mobility exercises depending upon the nature of the case. In a majority of cases the condition is vastly improved with between 3-6 acupuncture sessions over the course of 1-2 months. Usually gentle toning, stretching and mobility exercises are required to correct biomechanical imbalances and lessen the chance of re-injury through enhanced function. Some massage can also be useful; particularly in more muscular or tensile individuals, those with heightened inflammation or those with poor circulation.
Inflammation can be reduced by drinking at least 2L of water per day, taking anti-inflammatory Chinese herbs and/or prescribed supplements and if tolerated a topical anti-inflammatory cream can also be an effective adjunct to therapy; the shallow depth of the muscles, tendons and fascia in the region allow these creams to penetrate to an effective level easily.
When rehabilitating this condition it is important to ensure that it is not re-injured before it is fully healed; if care is not taken such can lead to pain becoming a nagging chronic problem. Placing a piece of tape on the elbow can act to alter your sensory awareness of the area and provide a reminder to prevent movements that aggravate the problem.
All the acupuncturists at Freedom Chinese Medicine have experience with this condition, but for initial consultations it is recommended that patients visit either Daniel Gibbs, Shiro Akiyama or Andrew Chambers so that massage can be performed if necessary.
Written by Dr. Daniel Gibbs
Acupuncturist & Remedial Massage Therapist @ Freedom Chinese Medicine
Mention this article for 20% off you initial consult with Daniel, Andrew or Shiro in March 2017 only.