Treating elbow pain with acupuncture

I’ve recently had a run in with some elbow pain. :-/

About 3 months ago, I started a serious Ashtanga yoga practice, going to Mysore practice at least 3 times per week. I’ve noticed a number of major changes in my body and mind already. I’m so thankful for this practice, which is very different from the yoga I’ve been doing since I was 12 (thanks, mom, for that VHS cassette tape of Sivananda yoga instruction). Anyway, I’ve noticed in the past week or so that my elbows have gotten really sore. I’m feeling the pain on the outside of the elbow, which means it’s something along the lines of lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow. Bummer! Tennis elbow is the kind of pain that can sideline people, athletic or otherwise.

Luckily, I haven’t missed a day of yoga practice because, as soon as I felt the pain in my elbow, I did two things. 1, I made an appointment to see my acupuncturist. 2, I started using an herbal liniment before and after doing yoga, and also before bed.

There are so many acupuncture points in and around the elbow area that acupuncture treatments for tennis elbow (and this also applies for medial epicondylitis or golfer’s elbow) can be so targeted. Just one or two treatments and my elbows were already feeling so much better. My acupuncturist (and I do the same with my patients) and I talked about ergonomics, so I could focus on the ways in which I was moving my elbows to see if there was something strange I was doing at yoga to irritate the tendons. Acupuncture does treat elbow pain, but you also have to get to the root cause (in this case, a bad movement pattern) of the pain or it will never resolve.

The liniment was also a huge help. Luckily, the elbow is a very soak-able joint. If you can’t get an herbal liniment for elbow pain, you can use an very warm epsom salt soak once a day. Some people have good results with castor oil packs, but I don’t have any experience with them.

So, let me be a lesson. When you’re in pain – pain in your elbow or anywhere else – don’t delay treatment. Make that call right away. It’ll be easier to block the elbow soon after it starts than it will be to stop the pain 6 months or more down the line. And also figure out what movement patterns are getting you into this situation so you can be mindful of them and correct them.

To read more about how we treat elbow pain at Dylan Stein Acupuncture, visit the Elbow Pain Page.

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