Pickleball Elbow- AKA Tennis Elbow

During the last few years at the Chinese Acupuncture Clinic, I began to notice many patients talking about something called pickleball. At first I was confused as to what this was because to me it sounded as though the patient had discovered a new culinary invention. In Asheville such a thing would not have surprised me in the least. All joking aside Pickleball has really taken off in Asheville and most likely all over the U.S. I can’t go to a park anymore without seeing people waiting in line to play a game.

 I started seeing many patients coming in complaining of what is known as tennis elbow which has the more illustrious name of lateral Epicondylitis. This term refers to the common elbow injury that is usually caused by repetitive motions including gripping and/or flexing or supinating (turning or holding the hand so that the palm is facing upwards) the wrist, for example when playing pickleball, tennis, painting, typing, raking etc.

These repetitive motions cause inflammation and, in some cases, micro-tearing of the tendons that join the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow. This inflammation leads to Qi and Blood Stagnation which gradually worsens over time as symptoms from this disorder usually develop gradually. Once the injury has set in the pain can become more of a burning sensation due to the amount of inflammation and its effects on the surrounding nerves. 

In some cases the inflammation at the joints, muscles, and tendons can become so severe that they begin to cause shoulder and neck pain as well as numbness in the hands and fingers.  That is why it is imperative to treat this condition as early as possible to ensure that it does not become a more chronic issue. If you address the injury with acupuncture early on then your chance of a quick recovery is more likely. If this condition has become chronic you may need to be seen with more frequency or over a longer period to expect a full recovery. 

Chinese Medicine including Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine has been shown to dramatically reduce inflammation while increasing circulation to damaged tissue. This can dramatically decrease the recovery time from Tennis elbow as well as other pickleball related injuries. As with all sports you are taking some risk when engaging in them but Acupuncture is a great way to ensure that you can maintain your health on and off the courts. 

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Tracy Smith L. Ac.

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