Tennis elbow, or as it is clinically known, Lateral Epicondylitis, is a repetitive stress injury that results from continuous bending and turning of the wrist and forearm in the direction of wrist extension and supination (ie the bending of the wrist away from the palm, and twisting it toward the thumb). The common causes of this disorder are excessive computer usage or competing in sports that require a racquet—hence the name “tennis elbow.”
Clinically, what happens is this. The extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle of the forearm, which is located between the lateral elbow and the thumb, becomes strained and slowly incurs damage to both its muscle and the tendon that connects it to the elbow.
The best treatment of tennis elbow is a combination treatment. First, it is imperative that the patient avoid the offending action as much as possible to allow the muscle and tendon time to heal. Of course, it is not always possible to completely avoid the action, and additionally, sometimes the benefits incurred by activities associated with the motion tend to outweigh the risks (as can be the case with recreational activity). In these cases, it is very necessary for the patient to take frequent breaks, and to correct their positioning as much as possible.
Second, the patient should receive acupuncture from an acupuncturist that specializes in acupuncture orthopedics. Acupuncture is extremely useful for multiple reasons. Acupuncture will help the body to invoke the immune system and promote blood flow to the area to help with the healing process. Acupuncture will also help to reduce the pain and sensitivity of the elbow by reducing inflammation there as well.
Third, the patient will need to rehabilitate the muscle and surrounding muscles so as to avoid incurring more damage in the future. For this reason, physical therapy can be a terrific addition to treatment, though exercises can be prescribed by your orthopedic acupuncturist as well.
The key to this and any repetitive stress injury is in early detection and treatment to avoid a long recovery time, as can be the case with long-term chronic conditions.