The elbow is a complex joint formed by three long bones. Four sets of muscles help move the joint and are attached to the bones by thick tendons. Damage to any of these structures or to the joint’s network of nerves, blood vessels and ligaments can lead to elbow pain.
Often elbow pain isn’t serious, but because we use our elbows in so many ways, elbow pain can affect our daily lives and can lead to chronic or lingering problems. Most elbow pain results from overuse injuries, often sports-related but also as a result of activities or work that require repetitive arm, wrist, or hand movements. Elbow pain may also be due to arthritis, but the elbow joint is much less prone to wear-and-tear damage than other joints are. Common causes of elbow pain include ligament sprain and tears, golfer’s elbow, dislocation, elbow fracture, tendinitis, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis, or irritation or damage to one of the nerves in the elbow.
Acupuncture can offer positive results for the various disorders of the elbow. One of the first steps of diagnosis is to determine which meridians have been most affected, depending on where the pain is located. This helps an acupuncturist to determine the focus of treatment, and the points to use.
Although muskulo-skeletal problems like elbow disorders are typically due to external causes such as a blow to the joint or an overuse injury, internal weaknesses of the body can complicate or aggravate a problem once it is there. So we also look at the overall health of the internal functions to find any areas of imbalance, particularly those that affect the meridians of the elbow. Imbalances will contribute to weakness in the elbow and make it more prone to injury, as well as more slow to heal.
Acupuncture can be very effective for the many possible problems of the elbow, both acute and chronic. These can be problems of the muscles, such as spasms, cramps, muscle strains, or overuse injuries; problems of the ligaments and other soft tissue, such as ligament strains, bursitis, adhesions and scar tissue; and problems of the joint, such as with gout and the various types of arthritis. Acupuncture treatment can relieve pain, aid healing and help prevent future problems with elbow disorders.
Our bodies are amazing organisms that have the ability to self-regulate and repair themselves. In any disorder the body attempts to minimize, repair and overcome the damage to its normal functions and in many cases, given adequate rest and support, our bodies are able to recover successfully. However, in cases where the body isn’t able to correct a problem on its own, acupuncture is a promising treatment that helps bolster the body’s healing abilities so that we can return to our normal, healthy selves.
James Kaufman is a Registered Acupuncturist at Okanagan Acupuncture Centre, 1625 Ellis St, downtown Kelowna, BC.