Have elbow pain? I hope you’re not icing it!

We have had our share of patients coming in with elbow pain called Tennis elbow or if you really want to get fancy lateral epicondylitis. Most of these patients come to Oak Point seeking relief from this annoying discomfort that sometimes even prevents them from holding a glass of water. When we ask them what they do to feel better, we cringe when we hear they ice the area. 

The logic behind icing is to reduce inflammation on the common tendon attachment (where the pain is). Reducing inflammation will hopefully reduce pain BUT in reality ice is doing more harm than good in this case. 

Research shows that there is no (or very few) inflammatory cells located in that area of the elbow and confirms that the pain is due to a break down/degeneration of the tendon most likely because of repetitive use/injury. 

So now what? What is the better treatment strategy to speed up the healing process when it comes to Tennis elbow? 

Well for one STOP using ice. If your Medical Doctor, Chiropractor or Physical Therapist comes near you with a ice bag, just kindly tell them you prefer not to use it. 

  1. Applying heat can help. 15-20min a few times a day will increase blood flow to the area.
  2. Avoid movements that cause pain. By now you probably already know which movements cause pain, so for now avoid them until the pain subsides. 
  3. Get Sports Acupuncture treatments. The great thing about Sports Acupuncture is that we assess and treat dysfunction (the cause) as well as treat the area of pain (the symptom). Acupuncture helps block pain signals going to the brain, release pain killing hormones, increases the perfusion and nutrition to the injured tissues as well as eliminates trigger points (commonly referred to as knots) that cause pain. Plus, it's natural, drug free and gets rid of the root cause of the problem rather than giving you a band-aid treatment. I don't want to forget to mention that with every Sports Acupuncture treatment, we perform secondary modalities like cupping and manual therapy to name a few that enhance our acupuncture sessions and allow us to get faster long-lasting results with our patients. 

So, if you are ready to say goodbye to that old Tennis elbow once and for all, schedule your appointment today so you can move and feel better ASAP by clicking here.


Written by Dimitri Boules LAc, LMT, CPE, CPT