Living with Tennis Elbow
Epicondylitis is no laughing matter! The pain can be debilitating, affecting your work, daily routines, sleep is difficult and relationships are strained. Let me summarise my journey through the past 13 months with my painful companion ‘tennis elbow’. Would you believe it, I don’t even play tennis!
My Journey with Tennis Elbow
August 2017 – I woke up one morning with a painful elbow. I was sure I hadn’t received any trauma to cause this pain. Therefore, I just tried to ignore it.
Gradually, the pain got worse and started affecting my sleep.
September 2017 – I give up on the pain going away by itself and went to see my Doctor.
December 2017 – I receive my first cortisone injection. To my relief, the pain eased and I managed to get a couple of good nights sleep. After a couple of days, the effect wore off.
February 2018 – I receive my second cortisone injection. This time there was no relief at all.
At this time, I was also experiencing sharp stabbing pains in the back of my hand, and numbness in my ring and pinky fingers.
March 2018 – I was prescribed 3 months of physiotherapy (3 times a week) which consisted of therapeutic ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and flexing exercises. All this caused no improvement whatsoever.
July 2018 – I saw a Traumatologist, who explained that 90% of epicondyltis (tennis elbow) cases generally improve within 12 months. Of the remaining 10%, 9% improve over the following additional 12 months (99% recover within 24 months). There is an option to go for surgical intervention. Currently, surgery is not highly recommended, as only a small percentage of patients have favourable outcomes. I was also informed, of a new procedure offered at my local hospital in Denia (Hospital Marina Salud de Denia); called EPI, which I immediately signed up for.
Intratissue Percutaneous Electrolysis EPI® (Electrolisis Percutánea Intratisular)
EPI Intratissue Percutaneous Electrolysis is a new physiotherapy method, involving the application of a continuous current through an acupuncture needle. The needle is inserted into the injured soft tissue (tendon, muscle or ligament) with the guidance of an ultrasound image. The current causes a highly controlled electrochemical reaction only to the degenerated tissue, which produces an inflammatory reaction to the area. This stimulating of the cells causes repair/regeneration of the affected tissue.
Distress Caused other Major Problems
August 2018 – Lack of sleep and constant discomfort, resulted in me taking Gabapentin (aka Lyrica) 3 x 300mg per day. The first 2 days were great. I had 2 nights sleep, but I felt like I was constantly drunk – clumsy, having major mood swings and not being able to think straight. Within a week the pain gradually returned, and with all the above mentioned secondary effects. Therefore, my Doctor advised me to stop the medication. As a result, I experienced withdrawal symptoms; sweats, shakes, panic attacks and nausea. My Doctor then recommened Diazepam (aka Valium) 2 x 50mg for 10 days to counteract these symptoms. Diazepam causes lethargy and forgetfulness. What a journey!
At Last the EPI
So eventually I get to the EPI. At last, let’s get out of this nightmare situation!
September 2018 – I went to see the Physiotherapist who administers the EPI. I am appointed 5 sessions, 1 per week. Apparently, most patients don’t need 5 sessions and improve after 3. The procedure was quick. I was administered 3 x 3 second electrical shocks directly to the affected tendon. It was a little painful but the results should definitely be worth it.
I will let you all know how my next session goes and the eventual outcome.
Please feel free to share your experiences about Tennis Elbow, good and bad. So that others going through the same nightmare situation are able to make decisions based on the information you provide.
First and Second Session Results
After the first session the long term pain improved imediately. I experienced quite a different pain in my elbow for a couple of days which I would describe as a nasty bruise. This new pain soon subsided and the improvement continued.
I have now just completed my second session, with the same painful but favourable results.
I feel like Captain Kirk writing in the USS Enterprise log, this seems to be going on forever.
Just completed the third session, which was just as painful as the other sessions. I was left in a lot of pain and discomfort which lasted for couple of days. Looks like I will be needing a fourth session.
Third Session Results
Wow, I woke up during the night on the sixth day without pain. I was wondering whether it was all just a very bad dream, but no; after moving my arm, the pain was still there. This week, I had a very painful start after the third treatment; but it ended very well. I am now pain free when I do not move.
Fourth and Fifth Session Results
I waited a couple of months before writing this section, maybe hoping that I would feel some improvement and I would be able to give positive feedback.
It has been 11 weeks since my final EPI, I can honestly say that I am in the same pain and discomfort today as I was in before the course of EPI. I am also now experiencing Epicondylitis in my other elbow too, so not looking that good at all.
I started writing this article to promote EPI to all tennis elbow sufferers, because my first experience of EPI was fantastic and I thought I had found the way out. I have not given up on EPI as I am begining another 5 week course mid January 2019, mainly out of desperation and not knowing what else to try.
If you have any questions or information that you believe could help me and other tennis elbow sufferers please add your comments below.
It is now mid 2020, and I have been “pain free” since mid 2019. I do get occaisional pain if I have been lifting or carrying anything heavy.
Basically time and rest heal, so don’t despair.
Be patient, persevere and before you know it you will be out of the nightmare AKA epicondylitis.