Acupuncture for Elbow Pain

By David Treviño, M.Ed., M.S.O.M., L.Ac.

Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) and golfer’s’s elbow (medial epicondylitis) are common terms used to describe elbow pain due to repetitive overuse of the elbow’s extensor and flexor muscles. The name for these injuries originated as they appeared in a high proportion of tennis and golf players. Today, tennis elbow is also referred to as carpenter’s elbow, electrical line epicondylitis, and painter’s elbow commonly seen in people who create repetitive movements with their arms in a work setting. Contact Us Now About Acupuncture for Tennis-Elbow-PainSimilarly, golfer’s elbow is caused from the over use of the muscles which pull the palm of the hand towards the arm eventually injuring the flexor muscles along the inner aspect of the elbow. Activities such as hammering, screw driver use, prolonged hand shaking and computer work contribute to this painful syndrome. Western medicine views both lateral and medial epicondyle pain to be difficult to treat as the initial repetitive micro-trauma is easily aggravated. The common conventional allopathic treatments for this condition are non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroid injections and surgery. Alternative methods of treatment such as acupuncture have shown significant results in the treatment of elbow pain.

Within the last 20 years several studies have found acupuncture to be more effective in the treatment of elbow pain compared to western medical interventions (Gellman, H. 1996). For example, in the journal, Pain (1983) 21 out of 34 patients who were treated with acupuncture had significant resolution or became completely free of pain. Many of these patients had been given one or more steroid injections previously without improvement. In fact, of the 26 patients in the control group who received steroid injections only 8 reported improvement. More recent studies confirm acupuncture as an effective therapy for elbow pain and as an excellent alternative to steroid injections. Deighnan (2001) found that 86% of the patients treated for tennis elbow pain with acupuncture had complete resolution or improvement of symptoms. Studies published in 1994 and 2004 in Journal of Rheumatology noted acupuncture to be a, “statistically significant analgesic clinical treatment for elbow pain compared to the placebo acupuncture group.”

In summary, western medicine has been interested in acquiring empirical data concerning the efficacy of acupuncture on modern type of injures such as tennis and golfer’s elbow pain. Numerous studies confirm acupuncture’s effectiveness for these conditions and have found this ancient treatment to be more effective than steroid injections without creating any side effects or worsen the condition of any patient. Acupuncture is definitely well worth trying for this disabling complaint.

General Symptoms of Lateral & Medial Epicondilytis

  • Difficulty holding onto objects
  • Difficulty pinching or gripping objects
  • Elbow pain & stiffness
  • Weakness of wrist of affected elbow
  • Minimal elbow movement
  • Forearm tightness
  • Tenderness on the lateral or medial side of the elbow

For more information on how Acupuncture can help your Tennis Elbow or Elbow Pain, please use the contact form below

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1.Rheumatology 2004 43(9):1085-1090; doi:10.1093

2. A. Molsberger and E. Hille, Rheumatology, 1996, Vol 33, Number 12, pp. 1162-1165.

3.Brattberg G., Pain. 1983, Jul. 16(3) 285-8

4. Deighnan, C. Medical Acupuncture 2001. Acupuncture for the treatment of lateral epicondylitis in a occupational medicine clinic. Vol 13 (1), pp. 21-22