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RMADN - Apr 20, 2023
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a condition that causes pain and discomfort on the outer part of the elbow. It is a common injury that affects people who frequently use their forearms and wrist, such as tennis players, golfers, and manual labourers. Whilst several treatment options are available for tennis elbow, dry needling has emerged as a popular and effective alternative therapy. In this article, we will explore the causes and symptoms of tennis elbow, explain how dry needling works as a treatment option, and discuss the benefits, risks, and side effects of dry needling for tennis elbow.
Dry needling is a technique used to treat musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. It involves inserting thin needles into trigger points, which are knots or areas of tension in muscles, to stimulate a healing response. Unlike acupuncture, it focuses on the anatomical and physiological aspects of the musculoskeletal system.
The elbow joint is formed by articulating three bones: the humerus, radius, and ulna. The forearm muscles, which are responsible for the movement of the wrist and fingers, attach to the epicondyles, which are bony protrusions on the humerus. The extensor muscles, located on the outer part of the forearm, connect to the lateral epicondyle, while the flexor muscles, located on the inner part of the forearm, attach to the medial epicondyle.
Common Causes of Tennis Elbow
Tennis elbow is typically caused by repetitive and strenuous activities involving gripping and twisting the forearm, such as playing tennis, golf, or using hand tools. It can also be caused by sudden trauma or injury to the elbow or wrist.
The most common symptom of tennis elbow is pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, which may radiate down the forearm. Other symptoms may include weakness in the forearm and difficulty gripping objects.
During a dry needling session for tennis elbow, a healthcare professional will insert a thin needle into the extensor muscles' trigger points on the forearm's outer part. The practitioner manipulates the needle in and out of the trigger point to elicit a twitch response, a reflex contraction of the muscle. This twitch response is believed to help release tension and improve blood flow to the area.
Dry needling targets the muscle trigger points, which are often the source of pain and dysfunction. By inserting a needle into the trigger point, the healthcare professional can stimulate a healing response and promote the release of endorphins, which are the body's natural painkillers. This can help reduce pain and improve function in the affected area.
Tennis elbow can be treated using various methods, including rest, ice, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections. However, these treatments might not yield favourable outcomes for every patient or could result in undesirable side effects. On the other hand, dry needling has been proven as a safe and effective alternative therapy for tennis elbow.
Dry needling for tennis elbow provides significant pain relief by targeting trigger points within the affected muscles. By doing so, dry needling can effectively alleviate pain and enhance overall function.
Compared to other treatment options, dry needling may offer faster recovery times for patients with tennis elbow. While the number of sessions required may vary depending on the severity of the condition, many patients report improvement after just a few sessions.
Another benefit of dry needling for tennis elbow is the lower risk of complications compared to other treatments. Corticosteroid injections, for example, may have potential side effects such as infection, nerve damage, and tendon rupture. On the other hand, dry needling has a lower risk of complications and is generally considered safe when performed by a trained healthcare professional.
While dry needling is generally considered safe, some potential risks and side effects are associated with the procedure. These may include bleeding, bruising, soreness at the injection site, and rare complications such as pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and nerve damage. However, these risks are rare and can be minimized by seeking treatment from a qualified healthcare professional.
Patients considering dry needling for tennis elbow should take certain precautions to minimize the risk of complications. It is essential to seek treatment from a licensed healthcare professional with specialized training in dry needling. Patients should also inform their healthcare provider of any underlying medical conditions or medications they are taking, as these may increase the risk of complications.
During a dry needling session for tennis elbow, patients may experience a mild sensation of discomfort or pressure as the needle is inserted into the trigger point. After the procedure, patients may experience soreness or bruising at the injection site. However, these symptoms typically resolve within a few days and can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and ice.
The number of dry needling sessions necessary for tennis elbow relief may vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the condition, the patient's age and overall health, and the specific muscles involved. In general, patients with milder cases of tennis elbow may require fewer sessions than those with more severe cases.
Whilst the number of sessions required may vary, many patients with tennis elbow report improvement after just a few sessions of dry needling. In some cases, patients may require up to six sessions to significantly improve pain and function.
The cost of dry needling for tennis elbow may vary depending on the healthcare provider, the location, and the number of sessions required. Patients should consult with their healthcare provider and insurance company to determine if their insurance plan covers dry needling.
If you are grappling with tennis elbow and contemplating dry needling as a treatment option, it is crucial to seek advice from a licensed healthcare professional with specialized training in the procedure. While dry needling may not be effective for everyone, it has been demonstrated as a safe and effective alternative therapy for numerous individuals with tennis elbow. By focusing on the trigger points within the affected muscles, dry needling can effectively alleviate pain and enhance functionality, enabling patients to resume their usual activities and enhance their overall quality of life.
To book an appointment with a licensed healthcare professional who specializes in dry needling for tennis elbow, contact RMADN today. Our experienced team can help alleviate your pain and improve your function, allowing you to return to your normal activities and improve your overall quality of life.
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