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  • Cat Calhoun

Golfer's Elbow

Also called medial epicondylitis, golfer's elbow is characterized by pain and tenderness on the medial side of the elbow that may radiate down the arm on that side. The affected area tends to get stiff and weak and may even get numb and tingly.


This can affect a patient's ability to participate in their favorite sports or fun activities, but even impairs the ability to shake hands, turn doorknobs, or even pick anything up. Gripping objects gets painful. Even flexing the wrist downward toward the forearm hurts.


Even though this is called "golfer's elbow," lots of people who don't golf get it. Using a mouse too much, people that grip and turn objects (like plumbers), even repetitive grasping and moving can cause it. I helped move our school library one spring, grasping a handful of books and transferring them to a cart for transport over and over again. Woke up the following morning and could barely grasp the sheet on the bed!


The earlier patient's get treatment for this, the more successful the results.


Basic acupuncture prescriptions

Needle the side opposite to the pain! That's always kinder (and less legally actionable) than needling the same side.


Option 1

  • Opposite side from painful side: Heart 3, Si 10, and/or Lu 5 Needle one or more of these points on the side opposite to pain.

  • Needle same or opposite side: Gb 34, Ub 40

Option 2

Other options:

  • For tendon problems anywhere on the body, but also for golfer's elbow, needle Ling Gu and Da Bai on the side opposite to the pain and Gb 34 on the affected side.

  • For pain along a channel, you can also do Ling Gu and Da Bai on the opposite side to the pain + the Xi Cleft of the affected meridian. The pain in medial epicondylitis is generally along the Heart or Small Intestine channel, so you could use Ht 6 or Si 6 for this. If the pain is more prominent along the Pericardium channel you can use PC 4.

  • Master Tung's acupuncture also emphasizes treating by tissue and five element association. The Liver is associated with the tendons and sinews, so you could also treat on the Liver channel and use a mirroring image point along that channel. Also, Liver and Small Intestine meridians mirror each other, so this works on several levels. A point on the Liver channel around the knee could work great since this is both a channel association and the knee is a mirror image to the elbow.