Sunday, 22 November 2015

Tennis Elbow & Not a Racket in Sight

I've suffered with Tennis Elbow for nearly three years and within that time I have had about 3 months respite when I was given a steroid injection. During those three months I was a new woman! Living with pain is hard, I'm normally an upbeat person who is always smiling and rarely down. Don't get me wrong like most of us, I do have down days but it doesn't take much to shift my mood. After those wonderful three months the pain came back, it had intensified and no ice pack was going to alleviate the pain. So, with a heavy heart, I went back to the doctors and had another steroid injection. This time it didn't work!

I was in more pain than ever I couldn't believe it. I was prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs, rest (like, how can I rest my right arm when I'm right handed), ice packs and pain relievers. The pain was dulled but it never went away, I was becoming irritable, I was down in the dumps and my smile had disappeared. Typing, lifting anything, walking Marco, gardening were all things that I wanted/needed to do but made the pain worse. I wake up every morning with stiffness in my elbow joint and I can't fully extend my forearm. Typing this has taken me ages and I have done it in short bursts. I nearly didn't publish it but if anyone else out there is suffering I want them to know they are not alone and we can work through the pain and get our lives back on track.

I didn't think the pain could get any worse, but I had no idea what was round the corner. I tolerated the pain in my elbow, and I found ways of doing daily tasks differently, I was pleased with myself, I was coping. As I type that it sounds ridiculous but it was true I was coping, that's not living is it? But I had found ways to carry on doing the things I loved doing, like my allotment. That's where my smile came back I was in my allotment oasis away from the daily grind of work and suffering. It was my little piece of heaven, where I could escape, I carried on gardening and even found ways of digging without causing more pain to my elbow! I can even write with my left hand now, OK it's not neat but you can read it! I was back in control and I shoved two fingers up to pain!

It was during those fabulous days down the allotment that I started to suffer with back pain too, I put it down to the digging on my allotment. I wasn't doing much at all just a little bit here and there and probably no longer than 10-15 minutes at a time. I was lucky as it was harvest time so most of my time was collecting the produce I had grown, which did involve stretching to reach the tops of my bean poles!

The back pain worsened and I suffered with sciatica, it was excruciating but I soldiered on telling myself that there were plenty of people far worse off than me and I was one of the lucky ones. I was constantly going to the doctors and he sent me for an MRI scan. I wasn't expecting it to show anything I just thought I was going through a painful patch! It showed that I had a prolapsed disc and that my nerve was being trapped which was causing the sciatica. No more digging!

To make matters worse I was suffering with some side effects of the drugs I had been prescribed. Enough was enough I stopped taking the drugs and decided I was going to take matters into my own hands. The side effects slowly disappeared as the drugs left my system but the pain was heightened. I can't go on coping like this I had to do something. I want my life back, yes, I'm not suffering as much as others are, I'm luckier than a lot but I wasn't living I was coping.

My aromatherapy is helping a little, I'm using avocado oil with a few drops of essential oils, black pepper, peppermint and rosemary and massaging it into the effected area. I also use a peppermint spray to 'cool' down the area. Even though I am a great believer in aromatherapy I knew I had to do more.

I have been doing a lot of research and I have bought a lot of books, which I'm working my way through. I believe that by making changes in my diet I can help myself more. Now, don't panic I'm still vegan, nothing will change that! I've decided to cut out all refined sugar, yes, all of it! Yes, it's hard extremely hard especially when you're knackered and in pain but I know it WILL be worth it! Sugar is the number one inflammatory food so it makes sense to remove refined sugar from my diet.

I'm only eating whole foods or clean foods so all that processed vegan food is a no no, but I will allow myself it occasionally, everything in moderation. I need to be extremely organised to stay on track. Every Sunday I prepare for the week ahead, yes, it takes time but its definitely worth the effort when you come home after a busy day at work and haven't the energy or are in too much pain to cook from scratch.

Most days I start with a smoothie packed full of anti-inflammatory foods, for lunch I have a whole grain with roasted veggies or salad and a dip or pate to keep it interesting, normally my beloved houmous with added turmeric. To finish the day off I have another wholegrain made into something delicious. Today I am going to share with you my favourite smoothie recipe at the moment.


100-150ml coconut water,
depending on how thick you
like your smoothies

1 Orange freshly squeezed
1/5th of a fresh pineapple
1 Banana
1 Medjool date, stone removed
Handful of spinach/Kale*
Handful of frozen raspberries*
Handful of frozen blueberries*
1 Tbsp Chia/Flax/Hemp seeds

*Grown by me!

Place the ingredients in your blender in the order above and whiz until you have a thick and glorious smoothie. My vitamix is fabulous for this as frozen fruit is no problem. Don't panic you won't even taste the spinach and it doesn't really change the colour of the smoothie either it just makes it more an intense colour.

Background to the ingredients used

Tennis elbow occurs as a result of tiny tears in the surrounding tendon and muscle coverings. Once the initial injuries heal, the tears repeat. These injuries leak out a protein called collagen, which in turn leads to inflammation.

Pineapples, Oranges and raspberries are all high in vitamin C, which contributes to cell growth and repair. They are also high in vitamin A which helps build collagen with tendons and other connective tissue. Pineapples also have an enzyme called bromelain, which is great to reduce swelling. Raspberries, blueberries and spinach also have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Bananas will help keep you fuller for longer as they help control your blood sugars, so no need to reach for the vegan biscuit tin mid morning! They also have high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin, which helps to elevate your mood.

Increasing your intake of food that is rich in omega 3 fatty acids is also advised which will also help reduce the inflammation and provide pain relief. Chia seeds, flax seeds and hemp seeds are all fantastic vegan foods which are high in omega 3's.

Put all these ingredients together and you have a fabulous tasting smoothie which is helping you to heal!

Jasmine x


  1. Oh Jasmine! You poor thing, this sounds awful. I hope the diet changes help and you get some relief. Have you tried any herbs? I just googled comfrey and it seems to be used as a treatment for tennis elbow. You put it in warm water and soak the arm in it daily. I had a badly broken arm when I was a child and my gran who was a nurse got me to do this every night for weeks after the cast came off and it did seem to help with the pain. Keep us updated xxx

    1. Thank you so much for the suggestion, believe me I will try anything! I will do some research but the good news is I have a comfrey plant in my back garden. OK so its not in bloom so to speak but I'm sure there's a couple of leaves still on it. I have just bought a herbalism book too which is next on my reading list. I'll let you know how I go. Thanks again x x :o)

  2. I am so sorry to read about your back and elbow. I suffer from back pain, but I think its due to poor posture. I hope the change of diet and herbal remedies do aid you and ease the pain. Wishing you the best.

    1. Thanks Shaheen :o) Cutting out refined sugar is HARD! Its in everything! I don't eat many processed foods anyway so I thought it would be fairly easy - how wrong was I? Ha ha ha if it helps though I'm willing to stick to it!

  3. I'm so sorry Jasmine to hear what you've been going through :( I really hope the change of diet works for you. Some friends of mine have also been able to effectively manage their chronic pain symptoms through daily meditation. They say they're still aware that the pain is within their joints, but it doesn't feel 'painful' or a discomfort, if that makes sense? One of my friends also works at the chronic pain department at our local hospital and it's been really interesting to hear how they help patients through teaching them pain management meditation techniques. I guess anything is worth a try.
    Sending big hugs and healing wishes your way xx


Thanks for leaving a comment, Jasmine x