Anyone who has experienced tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow knows how debilitating it can be. Lifting, twisting, or just straightening your wrist sends a jolt of pain through your forearm, and on top of that, your grip strength becomes weaker too. Even doing household chores can start to feel impossible.
Many people with tennis elbow continue to experience pain for up to two years, or longer. Research has shown that acupuncture is a safe and effective alternative to steroid injections and surgery.
How Does Acupuncture Help Heal Injuries?
Do you have any friends or relatives in Southlake who have tried acupuncture for their own aches and pains? You’re probably wondering how acupuncture needles can help such a wide variety of problems.
Western science has offered a few explanations for why this age-old practice helps with pain. For example, pricking the skin, or applying pressure where there’s an underlying nerve, releases endorphins. These proteins, which are similarly structured to opiates, can naturally block pain, reduce stress, and help boost your immune system.
Other scientists believe that anti-inflammation is the main benefit of acupuncture. There are studies that suggest acupuncture decreases the number of inflammatory proteins, such as TNF, in both humans and animals. Naturally, reducing the inflammation in tennis elbow can decrease both the swelling and pain. Traditional “acupoint” sites where needles are administered also tend to have a higher density of sensory nerve endings. Piercing or applying pressure to these points increases blood flow, which helps your body heal itself more quickly.
Kalpesh L. Patel, a licensed acupuncturist in Southlake, decided to study Traditional Chinese Medicine because of his own first-hand experience with acupuncture. An intense weight lifting program in high school left Kalpesh with severe tendonitis. His injury did not respond to conventional treatment, but after just two acupuncture sessions, the pain was finally relieved.
What Research Shows about Acupuncture and Tennis Elbow
There are several studies that have taken a look at acupuncture for tennis elbow. Some of them are available to read for free online. One of these studies, from the 2002 issue of Rheumatology, concluded that “real” acupuncture, in which the correct meridians were needled and stimulated, reduced pain and improved arm movement more than “sham” acupuncture (in which the patient is needled, but not in the right places).
The improvement was especially clear for the early follow-up appointments, and with patients who needed to use their arm for daily work. Each of the patients in the Rheumatology study had tried conventional therapy and medications for their tennis elbow before, but without success. Rheumatology also released a meta-analysis of six different acupuncture studies online. This meta-analysis found that in six out of six studies, acupuncture was effective for short term pain relief.
Whether your tennis elbow is recent and you’re reluctant to try steroid shots, or your elbow has been bothering you for years, it’s never too early or late to try acupuncture.