Tennis Elbow Pain & Acupuncture

Tennis Elbow Pain & Acupuncture

1 October 2018 by Caitlin Armit

What is tennis elbow?

The medical term for tennis elbow is lateral epicondylitis. The lateral epicondyle is the bony prominence on the outside of the elbow and the condition refers to pain in this area where the tendons of the forearm attach to this bone. It is usually a result of overuse of the forearm muscles.

Tennis elbow relief from Acupuncture


A study from 2014, Acupuncture and moxibustion for lateral elbow pain: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials, examined the evidence from 19 randomised controlled trials which compared acupuncture and/or moxibustion with sham ‘placebo’ acupuncture, a different style of acupuncture or conventional treatment.

Three of these trials showed that acupuncture was more effective than sham ‘placebo’ acupuncture. Ten of the trials showed that acupuncture or moxibustion was more effective or just as effective as conventional treatment e.g. local anaesthetic or steroid injection, anti-inflammatory medication or ultrasound. Six of the trials showed that the combination of acupuncture and moxibustion was superior compared to manual acupuncture alone. The quality of these studies was sub-optimal due to methodological issues so the authors of the study have recommended further trials with more rigorous standards of a larger scale.

A study from 2015, Acupuncture for lateral epicondylitis: A systematic review, assessed the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for lateral epicondylitis otherwise known as tennis elbow. The authors acknowledge that the results of previous studies indicate that acupuncture has a positive effect on lateral epicondylitis but in this case they wanted to know if acupuncture improved elbow and arm function to improve quality of life.

The review included only 4 randomised controlled trials from China and Germany with a total of 309 participants. The results showed that participants who received acupuncture or acupuncture plus moxibustion were likely to have improved elbow function and/or muscular force or strength after treatment. Again, the methodological quality of these studies was not high due to risk in selection bias and blinding of participants and practitioners so the authors recommend that the results be interpreted with caution. The authors recommend further large scale studies with improved methodology to draw more firm conclusions on this topic.


Categories: Brisbane Acupuncture Blog | Pain Relief Brisbane

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