Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis as it is known clinically, is inflammation of the tendon which joins the muscles of the forearm to the lower end of the upper arm bone (the humerus). The muscles at the back of the forearm flex the fingers and wrists, and they are all connected to the same point on the outer side of the humerus.
Not surprisingly, in view of the muscles’ constant use, inflammation can sometimes result, causing extreme tenderness and pain down the forearm and up to the shoulder. Any repetition action – typing, working at a supermarket checking out, or repeated lifting – can cause tennis elbow, as well as playing tennis frequently.
You may notice pain on the outside of the elbow, which may travel down the forearm when:
- lifting or bending your arm
- when gripping small objects, such as a pen
- when twisting your forearm, such as turning a door handle or opening a jar.
If tennis elbow persists, and is caused by an aspect of the patient’s work which they are unable to avoid, a GP may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen or cortisone injections.
Chinese Medicine says it is caused by cold and damp in the elbow region. Treatment with Chinese herbal medicines including Gui Zhi (Ramulus Cinnamomi), Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis) and Sheng Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens) can be very effective, as can acupuncture combined with moxibustion.
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