Addressing Tennis Elbow With Dry Needling

Tennis elbow isn’t just a condition that affects athletes; it’s a widespread issue that can diminish the quality of life for anyone. Dry needling in St Albert offers effective treatment that can address the pain associated with tennis elbow, while also restoring function and mobility. 

This blog post provides a detailed exploration of dry needling, with insights into how this method stands apart from traditional treatments and a focus on its benefits for those suffering from tennis elbow.

Understanding dry needling

Dry needling is a technique employed by physiotherapists and chiropractors to target muscle tightness and trigger points. It involves the insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body to alleviate pain, improve range of motion, and facilitate the rehabilitation process. 

Dry needling vs. acupuncture

While both dry needling and acupuncture involve the insertion of needles, they originate from different traditions and have distinct objectives.

Acupuncture is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, aiming to balance the body’s energy flow (Qi) across meridians for overall health and well-being. It focuses on promoting health and treating a wide range of conditions by restoring the balance of the body’s energy.

Dry needling, on the other hand, is based on Western medical research and targets specific musculoskeletal issues by manipulating trigger points to relieve pain and improve function. It specifically addresses localized muscle tension and pain, especially in conditions like tennis elbow, where muscle tightness contributes to the symptoms.

What is tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow, medically known as lateral epicondylitis, is not just a nuisance but a significant impediment to daily function and well-being for those affected. Characterized by irritation, inflammation, or even degenerative changes in the tendons attaching to the outer elbow, this condition goes beyond just athletes.

Causes of tennis elbow

At its core, tennis elbow results from the overuse of the muscles and tendons in the forearm, particularly those that extend the wrist and fingers. While the condition’s name suggests an association with tennis, the reality is that any activity involving repetitive arm, wrist, and even finger use can lead to its development. Common contributors include:

  • Sports that require repetitive elbow, wrist and hand movement, such as tennis, squash, or even climbing.
  • Activities such as painting, typing, or the use of hand tools. 
  • Sudden or acute trauma, like a direct blow to the elbow or a sudden forceful pull.

Symptoms of tennis elbow

Individuals suffering from tennis elbow typically experience:

  • Pain and tenderness on the outer part of the elbow, exacerbated by gripping or lifting.
  • A noticeable decrease in grip strength, complicating everyday tasks.
  • Pain that may radiate into the forearm and wrist, especially during activities involving wrist extension.

Risk factors 

While repetitive strain is a primary catalyst, several other factors can increase the risk or exacerbate the condition, including:

  • Muscle weakness, particularly in the forearm and the rotator cuff, which can put additional strain on the elbow tendons.
  • Occupational and lifestyle factors that involve constant arm use or poor ergonomic practices.
  • Pre-existing conditions or injuries that may alter the normal mechanics of the elbow, wrist, and arm, contributing to the development of tennis elbow.

The role of dry needling in treating tennis elbow

The first step in treating tennis elbow with dry needling is to conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine if dry needling is appropriate for your specific case. When used as part of a broader treatment strategy, dry needling can significantly reduce the symptoms of tennis elbow by:

  • Relieving muscle tension and trigger points associated with pain.
  • Enhancing grip strength and range of motion.
  • Improving the overall function of the arm, shoulder, and neck to support well-being and address tennis elbow symptoms.

Effectiveness and expectations

The effectiveness of dry needling varies by individual, with some experiencing immediate relief and others seeing gradual improvements. It’s important to view dry needling as one component of a comprehensive recovery plan that includes:

  • Tailored exercise programs.
  • Lifestyle adjustments including diet, sleep, and stress levels.
  • Continuous assessment and adjustment of treatment strategies.

Who should avoid dry needling?

Dry needling is not recommended for certain individuals, including those with needle phobia, pregnant women, individuals with blood clotting disorders, those on moderate to high doses of blood thinners, immunocompromised individuals, those with active skin infections or uncontrolled medical conditions, and anyone advised against this treatment by a medical professional.

Are there any negatives to dry needling?

While dry needling is generally safe, it may cause temporary discomfort, mild bruising, post-needle fatigue, slight bleeding at the insertion site, or a temporary exacerbation of symptoms. Rare adverse reactions include dizziness, nausea, infection at the needle site, and pneumothorax.

Regain optimal mobility 

If tennis elbow is affecting your life, consider dry needling with MVMT Physio & Chiro. Our experienced team in St Albert is ready to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. Contact us today to take the first step towards a more active and pain-free life.

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