Thursday, July 19, 2007

Anyone For Tennis Elbow?

I'm coming to the end of the third week with a never-had-it-before, really bad case of tennis elbow. At least, I think that's what it is. And it doesn't seem to want to go away on its own.

Oddly enough, it doesn't affect my drumming. But mousing is irritating, and I'm learning to drink coffee left-handed, because picking up a full cup with my right hand and getting it all the way to my mouth is a fifty-fifty proposition. And I don't want to play guessing games with my coffee before I've had my coffee.

I woke up with it on 2 July...the day after the Canada Day festival. And at first I couldn't figure out what was up with my arm. Now that I've figured out what it is, I'm working on figuring out what caused it. Applauding all those excellent performers?

Naturopathy says ice and wet heat. While it feels good to put the elbow on ice, especially on a hot day like we've been having lately, all the ice accomplishes is a cold elbow. No relief.

I'll try all kinds of non-invasive remedies before I see my doctor next week and lay this thing on his table. Any suggestions?


Anonymous stageleft said...

As someone who is afflicted with this, and putting up with a flare up even as I type - here's the drill.

[1] Throw your mouse away, replace it with an ambidextrous track ball, I use a Logitech USB trackball... learn to use it with your left hand. I did, it will take less time than you think.

[2] Get a tendon brace - Shoppers DrugMart sells 'em for about $15 and wear it, that will help prevent further injury.

[3] Get a wrist brace for the afflicted arm - it will help, I wear one.

[4] Keep icing the elbow, it may not seem like you're accomplishing anything but you are. Tendon injuries take between 4 and 6 weeks to heal.

[5] Take anti-inflammatory's - I use ibuprofen during flare ups

[6] If you can lay your hands on some good homemade liquid St. Johns wort give it a daily deep massage. Alternatively get some caster oil, warm it up a bit, rub it in good, cover it with plastic wrap, then wrap a warm towel around it all to help move it in. Yeah, I know, sounds weird, but it works for me

[7] As soon as the pain is gone start doing some stretching exercises. If you've got a few light weights (1 or 2 lbs) lay your arm on your leg with the wrist extending over the knee (palm up) and lift the weight with your wrist. Roll your hand over so that the palm is down - do a few more. Hold the weight in your hand and rotate your wrist. Don't over do it, there's a fine line between a re injury and strengthening your muscles. If you don't have light weights find something that you can wrap your hand around to use as a substitute.... a pop bottle full of water works good.

Go to the Dr. but do not let them talk you into cortisone shots, it's (IMO) the wrong road to go down. If he suggests it ask him quite pointedly how may shots you can get in that location in your life and how much good each successive shot will do.

Did I say that it will take weeks to heal, be patient, and don't push it.

Let me know how it goes.

PS: You may never know out what caused it, I'm gonna guess the mouse is the culprit, but that's just a guess :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2007 5:49:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

The St. John's Wort sounds intriguing, especially since I can do homemade -- I'm guessing a hot oil infusion?

I prefer asa as an anti-inflamatory...or even meadowsweet. And I had not even thought of using an anti-inflamatory, since the elbow is painful, but not inflamed.

The cortisone shots were an option I was dreading, but I've done some research and I've changed my mind -- they're not even an option! Damn, but that stuff is unfriendly!

I've tried trackballs and I don't like them. However, I can re-configure my mouse and switch hands for awhile. I'm sort-of ambidextrous, anyway, for a lot of things.

I was avoiding the use of braces because I didn't want to make the muscles dependent on them. However, after thinking about it, I'm gonna use them. If nothing else, their presence on my arm will remind me not to do anything lift up a bus, or something.

Light-weight wrist curls. Got it.

I'm also taking a drumming break for a few weeks. Even though I've been able to drum without pain, I'm thinking that it can't be good for the elbow to do all those rapid, abrupt movements. It helps that my drum is going on vacation without me as part of the equipment in a drumming class (they are short of drums, so I offered mine. Yes, I know them well. My drum is in good hands).

I've also been thinking of trying kinesiology. I had excellent results with it several years ago when the tendons in my other wrist shortened, and not even the doctor knew what to do about it. Three treatments put me back to normal, and I've had no trouble with it since.

The hardest part is the patience. I don't have any. Everything is pretty much "now" with me...very feline.

Friday, July 20, 2007 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous stageleft said...

SJW = deep healing :-)

ASA is hard on the stomach, or at least that's what I've been advised my our (for lack of a better term) medicine woman. The elbow isn't inflamed, but the unseen tendon is, that's why the anti-inflammatory's.

I tried switching to a left-hand mouse for a while, the problem is that when you go back to the right-hand way you are right back to the repetitive movement (reaching for the mouse and moving it around) that, if it did not cause the injury, probably compounded it. I am also quite ambidextrous as a result of a broken hand/wrist when I was a teenager and ultimately just ended up sticking with the left-hand and a track ball on a permanent basis. My personal recommendation is get the track ball, even if you use it with your right hand after the injury has healed you'll be better off, and if it flares up again (and unfortunately I have never met anyone who only ever had one flare up) you can easily switch to the other side.

I avoid pain killers or rubs that numb the area, the pain is good in that it lets you know if you are doing to much. If you are numb you can re injure and not even know it.

The brace is only while the injury heals. Some people get lazy and use them too long, the muscle becomes dependent on that additional support, and they re injure themselves quickly because the tendon tries to pick up the slack the muscles can't - hence the exercise to strengthen wrist and forearm.

I had a flare up about 6 years ago that would not go away despite everything I did, it sent me to a physiotherapist who was unsuccessful, so I tried acupuncture. Looking back I see that personal stress being stored in muscle areas that affected the tendon was as big a part of the event as the actual injury itself and once my Ch'i was back in a more reasonable state the injury healed.

Patience is a biggie with me as well, I'm a big (big) fan of instant gratification. I've learned to deal with it :-)

Saturday, July 21, 2007 6:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry for the break in. Hope all is going well with you and the Navvies otherwise.

Sunday, July 29, 2007 12:53:00 AM  

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