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AN A-Z OF HEAD, NECK AND ARM PAIN: TENNIS ELBOW OR EPICONDYLITIS

If there is the added complication of brachial neuritis, this is best handled by an adjustment of the joint where the nerve irritation is located, together with localised therapy in the elbow.

Epicondylitis is an inflammation of a part of the elbow. It is not an easy pain to treat as the muscle inserts into the bone (called the humerus) at this point. The fibres are torn at the very part that should be strong to take the weight of lifting.

The injury is best supported by an elastic guard as you seem to bump it at every turn. Certainly I use acupuncture but the therapy takes quite a long time. It requires the co-operation of the patient so that the area does not become aggravated by overuse.

People are so impatient with this injury. Repetitive action can bring it on. The classic case is the tennis coach who says, ‘Right, let’s just work on your backhand.’ Twenty minutes later, pain is a reality. Another cause of this condition is when a player changes the tennis racquet weight without adequate prior strengthening of the forearm muscles. Car mechanics can also get into trouble, as can anyone who does intricate jobs using the forearm muscles in awkward movements. So you see, it is not only suffered by tennis players. Cortisone injection, commonly used, is such a cruel treatment for this condition. Initially, the cause of the pain should be diagnosed. There could be several problems, needing slightly different therapies.

Osteopathic adjustment of any rotated muscles in the forearm can be initiated straight away. Only after therapy is completed do we give strengthening exercises. If exercises are given first, it often prolongs the healing time.

Acupuncture is a gentle start to treatment, and often few visits are needed. Ultrasound is another soothing therapy, popular with my patients over the years. It is a deep heat that comforts and starts healing the torn muscle fibres. By all means use an elastic supporting elbow guard if you insist on using the elbow. But don’t allow this sort of help to delay the correct treatment.

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