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When Is A Tennis Elbow Not A Tennis Elbow?

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Natick Massage | Weston Massage | Turte Dance BodyworkWhen it’s a trigger point! *ba dump-bump*
(Thankfully, I Love my day job!)

So anyway, tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a common injury in those of us over the age of 35. It is typically brought on by repetitive activities, particularly those that involve an impact, like tennis, hammering or chopping wood. The tendonous attachment of Extensor Carpi Radialis Brevis, the muscle that brings the whole hand back into extension, (as if shooing a fly away) at the outside of the elbow tears slightly, causing pain, an inflammatory reaction and poor healing. Depending on the severity, treatment options range from ice and stretching all the way to surgery.

Here’s the kicker: the pain you feel in your elbow could be stemming from issues as far away as the shoulder! Or the triceps, or a number of muscles in the forearm. And there is a high likelihood that trigger points are the primary culprit, or at least a major factor.

Trigger points are minute bits of muscle tissue that have become locked in contraction due to trauma, overuse or constant irritation. Decades of research by Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons have mapped and repeatedly shown what they dubbed “referral patterns”, sensations caused by trigger points in a muscle that are felt remote from the origin. While many of the trigger points that refer to the elbow are located in the forearm, there is one well-known point in a rotator cuff muscle at the top of the shoulder, and one in the triceps, which when pressed, cause sensation in the elbow, and when released, can alleviate the elbow pain.

Neuromuscular Therapy is a manual massage technique that focuses on finding and releasing trigger points, allowing the musculature to retain its original length, strength and flexibility. I have found it to be a very effective approach to alleviating pain in my clients, and use it regularly. It is non-invasive, relatively painless, and much less disruptive to life in general than some of the more drastic approaches.

Before considering surgery or even cortisone shots for treatment of chronic pain, I strongly recommend looking into this approach as an alternative or adjunct. While it doesn’t rebuild torn tissue, and does not replace surgery where surgery is indicated, it can be beneficial in muscle conditioning, and may release tension enough that the muscle can heal

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