Summer has finally arrived and July has been designated National Tennis Month. So dust off that racket and go have some fun. If your one of the 10% of Americans that can’t due to tennis elbow here is some helpful advice to get back into the game. Lateral epicondylitis, also called tenosynovitis consists of inflammation of the tendons attached to the lateral or outside of the elbow at the epicondyle of the humerus. Pain, burning and numbness usually effect the elbow and may radiate into the forearm and hand. The pain usually occurs whenever there is a grasping motion such as opening a door, jar or holding a racket. It is accompanied by weakness and increased ache at rest or during the night. A sudden injury or repetitive strain to the elbow causes this inflammation. Tennis elbow is not only found in tennis players but in any one who repeats an arm motion over and over again. Basketball players, carpenters, musicians, swimmers, meat cutters, excessive mousing on a computer and plumbers all have the potential in developing tennis elbow.
The Western medical treatment for lateral epicondylitis mainly consists of rest, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy and the application of ice. Surgery is indicated in 5% of the cases whenever the above measures have failed. Patients then typically require 6-8 weeks of recuperation with several months before being able to do any heavy use of the arm. Consider other alternatives if the conventional treatment has stalled or failed.
In Chinese medicine tennis elbow is called zhou lao or elbow taxation. Overwork taxation causes detriment and damage to the sinews or tendon. This taxation causes insufficient blood flow to nourish the sinews, while on the other hand there is blood stasis obstructing the free flow of energy (qi) to the vessels. This usually results in a cold type ache with increased pain and numbness in the evening.
In order to get satisfactory results with tennis elbow you need to refrain from any (work or play) activity that causes discomfort. This will allow your body to heal and the inflammation to dissipate. Alter the activity to use different muscles, such as mousing with the opposite hand or using a lighter tool to complete the task at hand. Tennis elbow from a Chinese medical perspective is a weakness complicated by cold. Self-administration of moist heat several times a day is the best medicine, if your elbow is not red, hot, or swollen. Acupuncture is extremely effective in treating this common injury. Acupuncture will reduce the pain and enhance your recuperative power. It can re-establish the flow of qi and blood to the local area. As your condition improves fewer acupuncture sessions are required. For those of you that are needle shy, tui-na (massage) therapy and /or bio-magnetic therapy is also a useful adjunct if performed by a qualified practitioner. To improve the strength of the tendons you need to nourish your blood. Consume more leafy greens, yellow and orange vegetables, berries and protein type foods. Take a supplement with vitamin B12, folic acid and iron. Get back in the game before the summer season is gone. Enjoy yourself.
Be Well, Stay Happy.