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Dear group:

Thanks to all who contributed. I included all the responses I've gotten
because many of them contained unique and valuable information. I've
decided to start with acupuncture.

Hi--I too have had tennis elbow--I have found that deep tissue massage
(shiatsu/Swedish combo) has helped quite a bit.
Have you tried acupuncture?  I have had success with elbow issues as
well as 
carpal tunnel.  Chiropractic care has also helped, but not as much.
I got a brace that is about  3 inches wide and goes around my arm when I
do activities that aggravate the tennis elbow. I wish I could claim that
it was actually playing tennis, but the truth is it's from crocheting.
If there is a qualified acupuncturist in your area, I would highly
recommend that. I have had acupuncture for other things, and really,
really, you do not feel the needles unless the doctor gets in the exact
WRONG spot.  I only had that happen once, and the doctor moved the
needle 1 mm, and it was fine.
I fully understand your elbow predicament.  I haven't played tennis for
almost 40 years, the last when it was required in HS.  But, the books
and other things take a toll.  I was wearing an arm band on each, the
kind that cost $50 with prescription and insurance (this is after trying
every other kind I had seen anywhere.)  It was on a day I took my
daughter to the chiropractor in the summer after doing 10 BOCES summer
classes with storytelling, much of it signed and it was 90+ degrees and
I was sweating something awful under those arm bands, the chiropractor
looked at me and said I looked like Hell.  How right he was.  He said he
could probably help with a process called "stripping the muscles".  OK,
it sounded awful, but at that point I was willing to try anything.  (My
doctor was more than willing to give me a referral since he had a whole
long list of anti-inflammatory drugs we had tried, cortisone shots, PT,
PT with some electric thing for the cortisone, and I don't know what all
else.)  So the chiropractor warned me that I would want someone else to
drive me home after the treatment, and he was so right.  He used
ultrasound for heating the insides of the arms and then worked on
stretching the muscles, which had atrophied and shortened greatly, over
the years (nearly 5) of wearing the bands.  At first I was there 3
days/week, then over the next six months it was gradually reduced to
two, then once, then monthly.  I have been on an "as needed" basis ever
since, which means about every 6 weeks, unless I get into trouble.  I
still keep a band with me for the "in case" preventative measure such as
moving a whole stack of books, but mostly I don't think about them.  I
do need to take ibuprofen at night to keep the inflammation under
control, but that is minor and much less than I was taking before.  It
was truly a miracle cure and much better than drugs that made me sleepy.
I have since been going twice a week to the Y for an aerobics/strength
training class, so the weights help with the arms too.  I have always
been a swimmer, but for quite a while I used to need arm bands even to
swim (not the good ones which would have disintegrated in the chlorine,
but other ones), and the swimming seems to help strengthen the arms.
    The doctor says it is not contagious, but my husband has been having
trouble for nearly as long as I have.  He never had it as bad, so rarely
visits the chiropractor and is OK just with the simple hand exercises we
were given.  He too hefts books, but not on a daily basis (he is a title
searcher and the older indexes are still in big books, the new on-line).
   Sorry to have rambled so, but I would encourage finding a good
chiropractor and asking for help.  It made a world of difference for me.
I have tennis elbow also. There was quite a thread about tennis elbow a
few years ago. The condition seems to be prevalent among librarians. You
might search the archives.
While I haven't had tennis elbow, I suffered for years with a bad back 
before having surgery.  After surgery I was told that I would always be 
without feeling in my calves.   Two years later I tried acupuncture 
for another condition and was amazed to find that within two sessions, 
not only did I feel better than I had in a long time, but I also had 
complete feeling in my legs!  For chronic problems, acupuncture can 
far outperform much traditional medicine. Don't let the idea of needles
scare you; it really is quite relaxing!
I use a topical over the counter cream called Joint Flex - available at
any drug store. I also found my tennis elbow was aggravated by not
having my elbow supported when using my computer mouse! My computer is
in a cramped space so I bought a chair with arms that were the same
height as the mouse for elbow support.
I had a year-long bout with tennis elbow, etc., last year and tried
numerous treatments, including most of the ones you have. What finally
worked was I went to see an acupuncturist. The acupuncture treatments
with the needles didn't seem to help much, but she burned an herb and
used it to heat up my injured arm, which did seem to help. Then she gave
me poultices to use for several weeks and they seemed to make the
difference. After my second round of poultice treatment, I finally
turned the corner. Another thing that helped was that after two rounds
of physical therapy with your regular, sports physical therapists, I
went to see two doctors who were hand and arm specialists. They both
told me to see a certified hand physical therapist, who specialized only
in working with people with hand and arm injuries. I ended up seeing a
wonderful hand therapist. Most of the treatments she tried didn't seem
to help, but she was a great person to talk to about my arm and how it
felt, etc., and she gave me these grip tests which showed my progress,
or lack of progress, etc. The bottom line is I was able to start playing
tennis again last spring, and I can reach for bottles, books, etc. now
without grimacing in pain or using my left arm to avoid feeling pain in
my right arm. I'm not 100 percent better, and may never be at that
stage, but based on how I had been feeling, it feels like I am!
 Good luck! The bottom line is keeping trying things until something
works. If the second round of poultices hadn't worked, I would have
tried a new experimental treatment the third hand specialist I saw had
told me about!
Thanks for posting this. I too am very concerned about it. Some things
that might help: get a barcode scanner that can be put on a stand and
stop using the hand trigger. Use a sheet of black construction paper
under the holder so the scanner doesn't try to "read" the pattern on the
countertop. Avoid grasping a full hand of books, get student help with
shelving if you don't have an assistant. Aspercreme has been helpful to
me - better a topical rather than taking a pill. I also need to get
better garden cutting tools - or a gardener - to trim rose bushes, etc.
with thick canes.
I feel your pain! I had a bout with this a few years ago, brought on my
trying to chop my car out of the ice and emptying a drop box that was
filled to overflowing and the books were all stuck in the top so I
couldn't even open the door! I wore an "air pack" device around my arm.
It's an armband that has a velcro closure and a little packet of air in
the middle. The packet goes over the sore spot and acts to keep the
tendons and stuff in the arm from moving when you move your arm. It was
SUCH a relief!! I wore it constantly during the day for a few months,
then less as time went by. Altogether it took about a year to clear it
up, but in the meantime I was able to be relatively pain free without
drugs while wearing it. It cost about $25 at a home health care store.
It is hand washable.
To help prevent recurrence of the injury, I also wear it when I'm going
to be doing a job with a lot of repetition, like inventory, where I
spend several continuous hours pulling books off the shelf and replacing
them. If I were shelving constantly, I'd probably wear it more often. I
highly recommend this treatment!
I have had it for over 25 years.   One of the first people I saw said 
the best thing to do for it was nothing and to do it all day long and 
while I can't to that it does create a mindset.   I have learned what is

sure to cause a flare-up and avoid those tasks or activities.  I avoid 
using screwdrivers, hammers  except when necessary.    Other things, 
like using computers, I can't avoid but try to use good ergonomics.   
And some things like cooking,  I continue to do knowing it might cause a

problem.     Rest is very effective.   I also take Neurontin which is 
effective for both my arthritis and tendonitis.
Have you tried one of those arm bands (w/velcro)?  My husband and I have
had success with it.  You wear it just below the elbow.  I think I'm
seeing joggers with them now, just below the knee.  Worth a try! I have
had it off and on over the years...the best solution and remedy I found
was to purchase a "band" that wrapped around my arm just below the
elbow. You can purchase one at any drugstore or pharmacy that carries
arm and knee braces.  When I finally discovered the cause of the pain
this made sense and it worked for me.  The nerve that runs down the arm
apparently "slips" out of the "groove that runs over the elbow. What
happens is that it slips out and causes stress on the tendons and
muscles in your arm and hand.  This band keeps everything in place so
that it can get better.  I at one time couldn't even pick up a glass
with my right hand because of this and as soon as I started wearing the
band that was corrected. I can't guarantee this will work for you, but
it did for me and I never had to pay for shots or medication or PT. Hope
this helps.
I've had a lot of trouble with my wrists and sometimes elbows.  I have
had great relief from chiropractic treatments. I also use Biofreeze,
found at my chiropractor's office. I learned to rethink some of the
things I was doing and to change my habits a little.  For instance, much
of my problem stems from working at a desk for long stretches (this was
before I was a librarian, obviously.) and the strain of the muscles
stretching across the upper back for the duration increases my pain.  I
learned to take stretch breaks, to do certain types of stretches, to
raise my work to eye level, and to change the way I pick up things, even
books.  If the book is heavy, I pick it up with two hands. I learned all
these tips from the chiropractor.  If you have never been, you will be
amazed at the relief you will get.
I wear an elbow brace/support that I bought at a local drug store (CVS)
cost about $25.00.  It has a small air pillow in it. What it does is
pressure on the muscles and forces them to work differently, thereby
your elbow.  Works like a charm for me.   I wear it when I know I'll be 
doing a very repetitive motion- shoveling, moving shelves of books,
scanning for inventory,  canoeing/kayaking. I basically just carry it
with me all the time.
The best treatments in the world are not going to be effective unless
you are able to give the joint itself some rest...and that's much easier
said than done!  Have you ever partially immobilized your elbow by
wearing a sling?
I had a cortisone(sp) shot and that only gave relief for a few weeks.
The my doctor put me on prednisone for a week (dose strong at first and
diminished through the week).  Relief was not immediate but was lasting
- over two years now.
I had great success with acupuncture.

Sharon Hamer--Librarian
Hyde School--Woodstock
150 Rt. 169, PO Box 237
Woodstock, CT 06281-0237

HYDE The leader in family-based character education.

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