Tennis elbow is considered an overload injury, and it typically occurs after minor trauma of the extensor muscles of the forearm; tennis is a direct cause in only 5% of people with the condition. It is primarily a type of tendonitis though the muscles and bones of the epicondyle joint may also be involved. Pain can also occur on the inner side of the elbow, which is known as golfer's elbow. Although generally self-limiting, symptoms of tennis elbow can persist for 1.5 to 2 years or even longer in a minority of people.
In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body's homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being. Stimulation of certain acupuncture points has been shown to affect areas of the brain that are known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the 'analytical' brain, which is responsible for anxiety.Acupuncture may help relieve symptoms of tennis elbow, such as pain and inflammation by:
- stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors (e.g. neuropeptide Y, serotonin), and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord
- delivering analgesia via alpha-adrenoceptor mechanisms
- increasing the release of adenosine, which has antinociceptive properties
- reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors
- Improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation which aids dispersal of swelling.