Q: i suffer from severe tennis elbow. I've had 6 steroid injections and that only helps it for a few months a time. I was just wondering weather acupuncture would have a bit more success?
A:Tennis elbow is one of the more frequent conditions with which people present at our practices.
The BAcC has a factsheet which outlines some of the research which has been unertaken
although it would be fair to say that the results are not as clear as for some other conditions for which we prepare factsheets.
Our clinical experience is that many people do benefit from having treatment but we are always very careful with conditions like this. If someone has four for five sessions without any apparent benefit we tend to draw a sharp line in the sand and look for alternative options for treatment. If treatment is likely to be successful there is usually some improvement, even if it reverts to being not so good again, and the improvements are incremental, i.e they get a little more pronounced each time. If nothing happens or there is a similar temporary burst of better times each time, then the chances are that acupuncture is not the best option.
The key thing is to set measurable targets: how far can someone turn the arm without pain or restriction, how much weight can they sensibly bear, and so on. There is often also 'homework' - it is remarkable how many people want to carry on playing golf or windsurfing while they are being treated, and the concept of 'two steps forward, one step back' is difficult to get across sometimes.
Best advice, as always, is to visit a local BAcC member for an informal assessment of what may be possible. Most BAcC members are happy to spare a few minutes without charge to see what may be possible, and this way you get to meet the practitioner and see where they work before committing to treatment.