Tennis elbow is a broad term that describes pain and tenderness on the outside part of your elbow. Pain can also spread down the back of your forearm to the back of your hand and even your fingers. Sometimes, you’ll notice that your grip is weaker than it used to be or you have trouble opening jars or turning door knobs.
Traditionally, tennis elbow was believed to be to an irritation of the tendon where the muscles that straighten your wrist and fingers attach to the bone near your elbow. While this does happen, there are several other common, but often overlooked causes of pain on the outside of your elbow.
For one, trigger points in the muscles that attach to the outside of your arm can radiate pain to the outside of the elbow. Two of the most common causes of elbow pain that I see in my patients are trigger points in the triceps (a muscle in the back of your upper arm that straightens your elbow) or in the supraspinatus (part of the rotator cuff that helps lift your arm and stabilize your shoulder joint).
So What Are Trigger Points?
Trigger points are sore spots in tight bands in your muscles. Normally, they shouldn’t be there. Injury, infections, stress, over training and about a hundred other things can cause them to form. They’re different from regular tight muscles. Trigger points are basically little inflammation factories. What’s even weirder, trigger points can cause pain and other symptoms in totally different parts of the body – away from where the real problem is. In tennis elbow patients, I often see trigger points in the neck or rotator cuff muscles causing patients forearm muscles to keep tightening up (how weird is that!).
While almost anyone could be affected, I most often see tennis elbow pain in martial artists, construction workers, law enforcement, musicians and members of the dental profession.
The good news is that a careful exam will usually reveal the source of your elbow pain. What’s more, most cases of lateral elbow pain respond well to dry needling acupuncture and tuina soft tissue techniques.
When you come in for your appointment, we will take a history, do a physical exam and help rule out more serious problems. We’ll examine your posture to see what muscles might be weak and which other ones are tight. We’ll also check for trigger points that could be referring pain to your elbow or triggering your forearm muscles to tighten up.
The advanced Orthopedic Acupuncture & Dry Needling styles that we use are ideally suited to reset dysfunctional muscles, reduce neurogenic inflammation and help restore normal function. We’ll create an individualized treatment plan for you to help reduce your pain level, improve your quality of life and help you get back to doing what you love.