Elbow Pain (Tennis Elbow) - A Chinese Medicine Perspective
What is Elbow Pain (Tennis Elbow)
Lateral elbow pain (LEP), also known as lateral epicondylitis or Tennis Elbow, is one of the most common musculoskeletal pains of the upper limbs, yet there is no satisfactory orthodox medical treatment . Lateral epicondylitis causes pain in the region of the elbow joint and results in dysfunction of the elbow and deterioration of the quality of life .
How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) view Elbow Pain
According to Maciocia, pain in the elbow is usually caused by a combination of exposure to Dampness and Cold and over exertion, either due to sports or work. It is considered to be part of the ‘Obstructive Painful Syndrome’ (Rheumatoid arthritic) classification in Chinese medicine. However, it is not a joint issue as such, rather it is associated with soft tissue damage around the elbow joint.
By far the most frequent area of pain is on the lateral (external) side of the elbow (Large Intestine channel), but pain can sometimes occur immediately above the tip of the olecranon along the Triple Burner channel or between the olecranon and the medial condyle of the humerus along the Small Intestine channel. Occasionally, pain occurs on the medial surface (inside) of the arm along the Lung channel.
The pain often radiates up or down the arm along the Large Intestine channel. In some cases, pain can radiate from about the lateral epicondyle down the forearm along the Large Intestine channel. Numbness and tingling can also be experienced down the arm and into the fingertips .
Several studies have shown acupuncture to be a safe and effective treatment for elbow pain [1,4,5].
At Kurrajong Natural Medicine Centre our highly qualified and experienced practitioners are ready to help. Simply call (02) 4573 0784
What You Can Do to Help Yourself
- Rest the arm and do not overuse it as this will increase the healing time
- Apply either hot-packs or cold-packs, whichever feels more soothing
- Apply Analgeze cream several times a day to help with managing symptoms – call our Clinic on (02) 4573 0784 for more information
- Strap the elbow when doing physical work, but do not keep it strapped all the time.
1. Gadau, M., Zhang, S. P., Wang, F. C., Liguori, S., Li, W. H., Liu, W. H., Bangrazi, S., Berle, C., Razavy, S., Bian, Z. X., Filomena, P., Hao, Y., Jiang, H. L., Lei, L., Li, T., Zaslawski, C., Liguori, A., Liu, Y. S., Lu, A. P., Tan, Y. S., …
Xie, C. L. (2020). A multi-center international study of acupuncture for lateral elbow pain – Results of a randomized controlled trial. European journal of pain (London, England), 24(8), 1458–1470. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.1574
2. Shin, K. M., Kim, J. H., Lee, S., Shin, M. S., Kim, T. H., Park, H. J., Lee, M. H., Hong, K. E., Lee, S., & Choi, S. M. (2013). Acupuncture for lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow): study protocol for a randomized, practitioner-assessor blinded, controlled pilot clinical trial. Trials, 14, 174. https://doi.org/10.1186/1745-6215-14-174
3. Marciocia, G. (1994) The Practice of Chinese Medicine: The Treatment of Disease with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs, Edinburgh: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
4. Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment. (2006). Methods of Treating Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review. Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment (SBU).
5. Liu, Y. S., Gadau, M., Zhang, G. X., Liu, H., Wang, F. C., Zaslawski, C., Li, T., Tan, Y. S., Berle, C., Li, W. H., Bangrazi, S., Liguori, S., & Zhang, S. P. (2016). Acupuncture Treatment of Lateral Elbow Pain: A Nonrandomized Pilot Study. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2016, 8182071. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/8182071