It’s been about one year since I published the famous article summarizing my experiences treating snapping triceps syndrome and ulnar nerve subluxation. Since then, I have received a lot of responses and feedback from people who have been experiencing those elbow issues. Subsequently, I authored and published an e-book that goes into detail about my hypotheses and treatment for the said issues I myself had. (If you’re interested in the e-book, it can be found here).
There’s No Conservative Treatment – What Gives?
As it’s been said repeatedly in previous posts and in my e-book, there is no “sound” form of treatment for these conditions, except for surgery. Literature reviews for both snapping triceps syndrome AND ulnar nerve subluxation each conclude that surgery is the only viable option:
“A conservative treatment regimen is recommended for 3 months to 6 months. This should consist of anti-inflammatory measures and the cessation of any activities that trigger the snapping. If conservative treatment is not effective, surgery is the most appropriate option. During surgery, the snapping portion of the medial triceps is [surgically removed]. The results of surgery are good to excellent in well-selected patients.” (Vanhees MKD, et. al)
“While non-operative treatment may decrease symptoms, it usually does not eliminate the underlying snapping. Patients who have persistent painful snapping or symptoms related to the ulnar nerve despite a trial of non-operative therapy should be considered for operative management.” (Xarchas KC, et. al)
It’s unfortunate that there isn’t much recommended by medical professionals as to how to treat these issues conservatively. It appears to just be rest and the removal of exercise from one’s activities. Compare that to the treatment of ACL tears, which can be successfully treated conservatively. (Rauch G, et. al) My guess is that this is because of two things.
First, ACL tears are “supposedly” more common. Second, more is understood about ACL tears, allowing there to be better recommendations for conservative treatment.
With the glaring discrepancy in treatment of ACL tears vs. the treatment of subluxating ulnar nerve/snapping triceps syndrome, it appears to result from an issue of supply and demand. In pursuit of profits, an industry will pursue the demands of one consumer-base over another, given the price of the product (in this case, medical treatment) is fixed but the size of the first consumer-base is much larger than the other. Apparently more folks have ACL tears than elbow issues, so they’ll get the attention. This leads me to question the ethics of the medical profession, but I digress…
I can’t help but wonder – are these elbow injuries that uncommon???
Snapping Triceps… A Force Greater Than You or Me.
When I sought after a solution for my ulnar nerve subluxation, I found that PLENTY of folks online had experienced this issue (and snapping triceps syndrome, too).
A quick Google search of both injuries gives us the following number of results. There are 21,700 for snapping triceps, and 51,800 for ulnar nerve subluxation. Search for yourselves and see. Sure, this isn’t as astounding as something like ACL tears, which nets 900,000 results in Google, but surely they are issues that both indeed exist and negatively affect people out there. Also, I’ve written in my e-book that there was a study with 200 healthy patients, 7 of them had ulnar nerve subluxation, unbeknownst to them. (Richard J, et. al) So, these conditions aren’t necessarily rare as they seem, despite the fact doctors make them seem as so. At least this is what I believe after reading about a lot of people’s experiences.
Again, this goes back to the fact that this market is considerably smaller than the ACL-tear market, thus is less of a priority to the medical industry. Less “customers”, less money to be made.
Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems
To make matters worse, the medical industry as a whole seems to be in the business of treating problems after they happen, instead of preventing them from happening at all. This little tidbit really strikes a nerve with me, because the medical profession claims to focus on the wellness of the patient. It’s even part of the Hippocratic Oath… “In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing…”
It’s understandable that people want to make more money, and doctors are no exception. Money makes the world go ’round. Without money, there would be no initiative to become a productive member in society. But for goodness’ sake, the current state of medicine is doing a good job at profiting off sickness instead of profiting off health.
The “rabbit hole”, that is the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry, goes deeper than anyone can imagine, but there is one thing we can take away from this little rant of mine. It is that those with ulnar nerve subluxation and snapping triceps syndrome will only benefit going to their doctor for their condition if they are willing to get surgery.
Unfortunately, an operation just simply isn’t kosher for everyone, just as it wasn’t for me. However, this is the reality we must live with.
Snapping triceps syndrome and ulnar nerve subluxation, despite being touted as rare conditions, are more common than we think. Thanks to this incorrect assumption, as well as the questionable morals of the medical/pharmaceutical industry, the only mainstream solution provided for these injuries is an invasive surgery. No preventative solutions, no conservative treatments. Just surgery. Could there ever be a viable conservative treatment or am I just blowing hot air? Should we all just get the surgery over with?
(Thanks for reading, and remember to check out the e-book I recently published, Snapping Elbows: One Man’s Experience with Ulnar Nerve Subluxation and Snapping Triceps Syndrome. In it, I discuss how I healed my elbows of these ailments.)
Vanhees MKD, et. al. “Snapping Triceps Syndrome: A Review of the Literature.” Shoulder and Elbow. 2.1 (2010): 30-33. Web.
Xarchas KC, et. al. “Ulnar Dislocation at the Elbow: Review of the Literature and Report of Three Cases.” The Open Orthopedics Journal. 1 (2007): 1-3. Web.
Ruach G, et. al. “Is conservative treatment of partial or complete anterior cruciate ligament rupture still justified? An analysis of the recent literature and a recommendation for arriving at a decision.” 129.5 (1991): 438-446. Web.
Richard J, et. al. “Management of Subluxating Ulnar Nerve at the Elbow.” Orthopedics 33. 9 (2010). Web.