Now, let's talk more about the symptoms and how they are diagnosed and treated in Western and Eastern medicine.
As shown in the picture by Mayo Clinic, the inflammation occurs "in the tendons of the forearm muscles where they attach to the lateral epicondyle." These muscles are called the "extensors of the wrist and hand". When these extensors are stressed repetitively, tennis elbow symptoms would gradually begin. The main symptom is of course #PAIN!! This pain may radiate down to the forearm, wrist, hand, or up to the shoulder or neck.
To diagnose, a medical doctor may order X-ray imaging and blood tests to rule out bone fractures or other medical conditions, and MRI or EMG to rule out spinal injuries or pinched nerves. In many cases, the description of the pain by the patients, medical history, and physical exam are used to diagnose tennis elbow.
How is it treated in Western Medicine? Treatments and medications include resting, ice treatment, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), physical therapy, and modification of activities for an athlete. Occasionally, a#CortisoneInjection may be used in the painful area. According to The Merck Manual surgery may be considered if after 9 to 12 months of unsuccessful conservative treatment.
For Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the tennis elbow is identified as "Elbow Strain", "Elbow Taxation (Zhou Lao 肘勞), "Elbow Pain (肘痛), or a type of injury to the tendon and muscles (Shang Jin 傷筋). The strain and taxation in the elbow are described as overworking and overstraining which can cause the exhaustion of the Qi and Blood (energy flow and blood circulation) of the body, leading to the malnourishment of the body structures. A TCM practitioner may also evaluate and determine if any underlying conditions of the internal organ imbalances are involved. Although common structures are involved in the tennis elbow for everyone, the treatment strategy and planning can be very different based on individual cases and body constitutions since we are unique individuals.
To treat tennis elbow in TCM, acupuncture is considered one of the modalities to alleviate pain symptoms. Other modalities include cupping, bleeding technique (not as awful as it sounds!), moxibustion, electric acupuncture, and auricular acupuncture may be considered. Different practitioners may use different modalities to treat based on the syndrome analysis obtained while doing the intake of the patient's chief complaints. The general treatment strategy is to soothe the tendons and activate the circulation of the body's meridians, energy flow, and blood circulation to reduce pain.
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#TCM, #acupuncture, #cupping, #moxibustion, #TennisElbow
Dr. Kang P. Tee is a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, New York State Licensed Acupuncturist and Board Certified Diplomate of Acupuncture and Herbalist by NCCAOM. His interests include musculoskeletal