Tennis elbow, despite the name, can occur without ever having picked up a tennis racket. The injury refers to specifically intense pain on the outside of the elbow, which mainly occurs when bending the arm and lifting.
There are several treatments for tennis elbow, as the condition can be frustrating to treat and live with. Many people suffer the symptoms of tennis elbow for months or years at a time.
The best treatments for tennis elbow depend on the individual and can be recommended by your doctor or physical therapist. There are no one-size-fits-all standard treatments.
However, acupressure and stimulating pressure points for tennis elbow are a natural form of treatment that will help to ease your pain.
Acupressure at particular points around the elbow crease, wrist, bicep, and forearm can help some people with the symptoms of tennis elbow. Namely, it can help to relieve the pain, stiffness, and tension caused by the condition.
This article will cover more about tennis elbow symptoms and how to stimulate pressure points for tennis elbow pain relief.
What Is Tennis Elbow?
Tennis elbow is clinically known as lateral epicondylitis. It's an overuse injury that stems from the tendons and muscles in the forearm, near the elbow joint.
As its name suggests, it can be caused by playing tennis because of its repetitive movements. However, any other activity which puts repeated stress on the muscles attached to your elbow that are used to straighten your wrist can cause the condition.
Small tears in the muscles and inflammation can develop near the bony lump on the outside of your elbow, which subsequently causes pain.
On the other hand, pain that occurs on the inner side of the elbow is known as golfer's elbow.
Tennis Elbow Common Signs and Symptoms
The main symptom of tennis elbow is pain on the outside of the forearm, just below the bend in the elbow. This pain may particularly flare up when you are bending your elbow.
Other symptoms include pain that shoots down the forearm, as well as wrist pain - particularly when gripping and lifting.
You may also experience pain when you try to hold something small like a paintbrush or a pen. Twisting objects like using a screwdriver or opening a tight jar lid can also cause significant soreness to someone who is suffering from tennis elbow.
While the pain tends to be caused by bending the elbow, some people find that straightening the joint also causes discomfort.
9 Pressure Points to Help Cure Tennis Elbow
The following acupressure points can potentially reduce the pain that results from tennis elbow. Sufferers may find stimulating these acupressure points helps to promote healing and shorten recovery time.
Here are the best tennis elbow pressure points to ease your pain!
1. Large Intestine 11 (LI 11) - Quchi or Pool at the Crook
The LI 11 pressure point is probably the most important acupressure point for relieving the symptoms of tennis elbow. It is located just above the point where the forearm tendons join the outside of the elbow.
Firm, gentle pressure on this point will assist in easing pain in the elbow at the time of an acute flare. Stimulating this area can also assist in managing fevers, nausea, and abdominal pain.
2. Large Intestine 5 (LI 5) - Yang Xi or Yang Stream
The LI 5 point lies on the wrist, just on the inside below the thumb where the tendons join. Again, it is an important spot to apply pressure to, especially if your tennis elbow also causes pain in your wrist.
You may find you can put more pressure on it than you can on the LI 11 point, as it is less involved. Therefore, it might be a good option if your elbow is too sore to massage.
As well as tennis elbow, the Yang Stream point may help relieve sinus headaches and congestion.
3. Large Intestine 6 (LI 6) - Pianli or Veering Passageway
The LI 6 acupoint is somewhat difficult to find on your own. It lies over the radius bone, midway between your thumb and your elbow.
However, applying pressure or massaging the entire area will help to relieve pain caused by tennis elbow – particularly if you have pain that shoots down the forearm when you bend your elbow.
If your tennis elbow results from typing or using a paintbrush or pen, you may also experience pain in the top of your hand. This Pianli point may be useful in helping to relieve this discomfort as well.
4. Large Intestine 10 (LI 10) - Shousanli or Arm Three Miles
The LI 10 pressure point is located halfway between the Veering Passageway point above and the crook of your elbow, also above the radius bone.
Although it is on the opposite side to the point at which the tendons involved in tennis elbow meet the joint, it can still provide significant relief from the tightness of the forearm muscles which cause tennis elbow.
The Arm Three Miles point may also help relieve toothache, as well as pain in the shoulder or the neck.
5. Large Intestine 12 (LI 12) - Zhouliao or Elbow Crevice
The LI 12 acupressure point is another one that has significant potential to help offer relief from tennis elbow.
Located roughly half an inch above the Pool at the Crook, firm pressure on this point may help relieve pain after bending your arm.
Again, pressure should be gentle, especially if you are already in pain. Because of nerve impingement, you may also experience some level of numbness associated with tennis elbow.
This point may assist with resolving that numbness. Be sure not to continue if you feel more pain though. Discomfort is normal, but if you notice any sharp shooting pains, stop pressure immediately.
6. Lung 5 (LU 5) - Chize or Cubit Marsh
The LU 5 acupressure point is located just above the crook of your elbow, slightly on the outside at the midline of your bicep. It may be especially good for easing spasmodic pain around the elbow and the arm.
If you have particularly tense muscles which are contributing to your tennis elbow, pressure at this particular point can assist with relaxing the muscles and easing the tension and pain.
It is recommended to bend your arm slightly when applying pressure. The Chize point is also used for its potential to relieve some sinus pressure, congestion, and sore throat.
7. Lung 6 (LU 6) - Kongzui or Maximum Opening
The LU 6 acupoint is on the inside of your forearm, roughly the same distance between wrist and elbow as the LI 10 pressure point.
Shift your pressure slightly around toward the inside of your arm, and you should be able to locate it.
This point again will help if you have tennis elbow that manifests with shooting pains down your forearm. It’s also very beneficial for treating tightness in the muscles of your forearm.
Lung 6 is generally associated with a reduction in inflammation. It may minimize swelling from around the body, as well as relieve a sore throat.
8. Triple Energizer 6 (TE 6, TH 6) - Zhigou or Branching Ditch
You can find the TE 6 pressure point on the outside of the forearm, roughly three inches above the wrist, on the line between the bones of the radius and ulna.
Because of its location, this point can be a good one to massage when your tennis elbow is significantly aggravated.
This point is far enough away from the point where the tendon connects so it won't cause be more painful to the touch.
9. Heart 3 (HT 3) - Shaohai or Lesser Sea
When your elbow is completely flexed, you will find the HT 3 point just below the bony protrusion on the inside of your elbow.
This pressure point is particularly associated with relieving spasmodic pain in the elbow. It can also treat numbness in the arm, which may be useful if your tennis elbow involves some level of nerve impingement.
However, because this acupressure point requires you to bend your elbow completely, it may be too uncomfortable to access when the pain is particularly acute.
Don't do anything that will cause you more pain. Be sure to see a doctor if you think you need medical attention.
Is Acupressure Effective for Tennis Elbow?
Massage and stimulation of pressure points will assist with the pain from tennis elbow.
The use of acupressure to treat tennis elbow is particularly important for increasing blood flow to the affected tendons and maintaining your range of motion in the elbow joint.
When it’s combined with other treatments like anti-inflammatories, acupressure may promote healing and speedy recovery, particularly if the treatment is continued long-term.
Does Squeezing a Ball Help Tennis Elbow?
Yes, squeezing a tennis ball, a stress ball, or even a rolled-up pair of socks can help with tennis elbow. Squeeze the ball for roughly five seconds, and then relax for ten seconds.
Make sure that you don’t overdo any exercises. If in doubt, see a doctor or physical therapist for individualized treatment plans.
Is It Better to Rest or Exercise Tennis Elbow?
Whether it's better to rest or exercise depends on what you are doing for exercise, and how long you have had tennis elbow.
If your exercise involves vigorous flexing of your arm, similar to the activities that initially caused tennis elbow, then it is much better to take a break from these kinds of exercises.
When you initially feel pain in your elbow, it is best to rest it completely. Once the incidence of sharp pain is less frequent, doing exercises designed to keep your elbow mobile and strengthen the muscles of your forearm is important.
A physical therapist will be the best person to advise you on what exercises to do and when
Is Heat or Ice Better for Tennis Elbow?
When you initially feel the symptoms of tennis elbow, icing the joint regularly will reduce swelling and relieve pain. Whenever the pain flares up again, it is best to reach for an ice pack.
However, heat can also be more helpful if you have been suffering from tennis elbow for a longer period of time, as long as it’s not excessively inflamed.
Particularly when applied to the muscles around the joint, heat can reduce tension in the forearm and bicep. It will also increase blood flow to the tendons to promote healing.