Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are repetitive stress injuries and are the most common cause of elbow pain. Inflammation and microtears form with overuse of the soft tissues around the elbow. Pain often radiates through the forearm; the wrist and shoulder can feel weak. A golfing injury, too much heavy lifting at work, even repetitive mousing and phoning can bring on this type of pain though the repetitive movements are much smaller.
It’s no problem to take a break from golf but it’s not always an option to ask someone else to move the cast iron pan, carry your groceries inside, wash your hair etc. For this reason elbow overuse injury is challenging to treat. The body can quell the inflammation and pain on its own but without proper rest the tissues are re-aggravated again and again.
When patients come to us for acupuncture for elbow pain, we
perform a comprehensive orthopedic evaluation and take a full health history.
In the case of overuse injury, we recommend resting from aggravating activities
as much as possible. We treat the soft tissues around the elbow with
acupuncture, and also often muscles of the shoulder or upper back. When
appropriate we apply electrostim to the needles, use gua sha (press-stroking),
or tuina massage. With chronic pain patterns it can be helpful to discuss
elements of diet and exercise. Infrared heat therapy, topical and internal
herbal therapy may support recovery as well.
Every new patient at All and One Acupuncture receives a written
treatment plan detailing our focus, our goals, our tools, and our expected
timeline of care. A typical treatment course for acupuncture for elbow pain
will vary depending on the severity and duration of the condition. If the pain
is relatively new or quite mild it may resolve in less than four treatments. If
it’s chronic or more severe, it can require three to six months of weekly
treatment, even up to one year. That’s a frustrating set of numbers and may be
why there is less evidence to support acupuncture in the treatment of elbow
pain, unlike low back pain and knee pain. However, conventional treatment is
limited. Stretching, rest, ice, and NSAIDs are recommended. Surgery is
considered after nine to twelve months of this conservative approach, and it’s
advised that surgery may not relieve symptoms.
It may sound grim for those of us with elbow pain but we regularly
see improvement and relief in our patients with elbow pain. If you are
suffering from tennis or golfer’s elbow or other elbow pain, acupuncture can
help! Please call us at (503) 281-6909 or book online at www.allandone.com.