In this article I share with you some information on tennis elbow and how I work in practice to help clients deal with this painful complaint and other complaints occurring in the upper body. I recently suffered with a bout of this painful complaint myself and some Bowen work along with other relatively simple interventions helped really speed up my recovery.
What is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain on the outside of the elbow, there can also be referred pain down the arm and into the hand. There are a lot of elements including; muscles, ligaments, nerves and tendons that make up the outside of the elbow so knowing exactly what needs to be treated in this condition is key.
Where the problem originates
There has been a lot of confusion as to where the problem with tennis elbow actually occurs. In the late 70s a leading orthopaedic surgeon discovered exactly what causes the condition. The problem is caused by a small muscle in the forearm called the extensor carpi radialis brevis. One of the ends of this muscle attaches to the upper arm bone called the humerus. In order to find the abnormalities in the small brevis muscle, the extensor carpi radilus longus muscle needs to be lifted. This was something that a lot of surgeons didn’t do and therefore missed identifying the damage in the brevis muscle. The tendon that attaches to this muscle is significantly implicated with the condition and abnormalities in this tendon will be present in those with tennis elbow.
Failed tendon healing
A significant issue with the condition is concerned with failed tendon healing. This has been proven in research that has been conducted when analysing pieces of tendon taken from people suffering. When analysed, the pieces of tendon did not show any signs of inflammation, instead the issue was concerned with failed tendon healing. The tendon had failed to heal due to it being repeatedly put through stressful and strenuous activities and not having enough time to repair.
What you can do to help Tennis Elbow
As we have already seen the main problem with tennis elbow is concerned with the brevis muscle and more accurately the tendon attached to this muscle. It makes sense then, that in order to alleviate tennis elbow we need to give the tendon the best chance to repair and regenerate. This is the key factor in recovering from this condition.
There are several things you can do in order to help the tendon and muscle and these include;
Minimise what aggravates
This is fairly obvious but it is really important to have a think about the repetitive motions you perform in your daily life and then monitor and minimise anything that is aggravating the problem.
Some of the motions that might cause you problems include;
- Any activity that involves you frequently opening and closing your hands
- Anything repetitive
- Racquet sports
- Carpentry work
- Using a screwdriver
- Repetitive lifting
- Computer work
- Frequent handshaking
Have some Bowen treatment
Naturally I am going to suggest that you try some Bowen treatment to help the condition and there are several procedures that can be used, including;
Elbow wrist procedure – this procedure works with the whole arm in order to provide relief. The brevis muscle and tendon is worked with indirectly as are the deltoids, extensor digitorum communis, and the epicondyles in the arm.
Shoulder procedure – often this procedure is also indicated when treating tennis elbow due to the compensation patterns that occur in the body. Doing this procedure frees up the shoulders and neck.
Forearm procedure – helps with any repetitive strain injuries of the arm and works with the palmaris longus, and flexor carpi radialis.
Use a Brace
A brace placed around the extensor carpi radialis brevis muscle, will support the muscle and the tendon. The brace will alleviate some of the tension placed on the muscle and tendon when performing daily activities that stress them.
In a treatment session I will show you the exact exercises and stretches that will help you, but in short these involve;
The Stretch – stretch the arm out in front of you and bend the hand down at the wrist. With the other hand apply slight pressure on the bent hand in order to stretch the muscle and tendon. Hold for 30 seconds.
The exercise – using a 1lb weight, support the arm on a table and place the weight into the hand with the other hand. Lift the weight by bending the hand at the wrist up and down. Do 3 sets of 10 and then stretch. If at any time you feel intense pain stop immediately.
In a treatment I would test for the most appropriate remedy for you to support your body in healing the condition. A couple of my favourites include;
- Homeopathic Ruta 200c