Research Shows Acupuncture Can Help Tennis Elbow Pain
Tennis elbow, AKA lateral epicondylitis is a common condition caused by localised inflammation of the elbow. This condition has a symptom of outer elbow, whilst golfers elbow affects the inner elbow. Although the names of these conditions pertain to sport, people turn up to our clinic for treatment of tennis and golfers elbow and have never played these sports. Typically the issue is to do with inflammation and is typically due to overuse either due to exercise or physically demanding jobs. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce inflammation and and treat pain. Acupuncture has also been found to be effective in the treatment of elbow pain.
Symptoms of Tennis Elbow
- outside elbow has dull ache
- pain when making a fist (golfer’s elbow)
- pain when opening the fingers (tennis elbow)
- soreness around the affected elbow area (either inner or outer elbow)
- grip is weak
- difficulties and pain when trying to grab items
Is Acupuncture a Good Treatment Option?
It appears yes it may be. Acupuncture has been found to be useful for relieving pain . The acupuncture evidence project reviewed available systematic reviews about using acupuncture for tennis elbow (1). Gadau found acupuncture was superior to sham acupuncture and the evidence was considered moderate quality of acupuncture being considered an effective intervention (2).
Tennis Elbow and Acupuncture Treatment: Research Abstract
The following abstract looks at a systematic review undertaken in 2014 looking at the use of acupuncture in the treatment of tennis elbow. We have included this review for informational purposes. For additional discussion about acupuncture for pain please look at our article on Chronic Pain
Acupuncture and moxibustion for lateral elbow pain: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.
Gadau M, Yeung WF, Liu H, Zaslawski C, Tan YS, Wang FC, Bangrazi S, Chung KF, Bian ZX, Zhang SP
Acupuncture and moxibustion have widely been used to treat lateral elbow pain (LEP). A comprehensive systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) including both English and Chinese databases was conducted to assess the efficacy of acupuncture and moxibustion in the treatment of LEP.
Revised STRICTA (2010) criteria were used to appraise the acupuncture procedures, the Cochrane risk of bias tool was used to assess the methodological quality of the studies. A total of 19 RCTs that compared acupuncture and/or moxibustion with sham acupuncture, another form of acupuncture, or conventional treatment were included.
All studies had at least one domain rated as high risk or uncertain risk of bias in the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Results from three RCTs of moderate quality showed that acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture. Results from 10 RCTs of mostly low quality showed that acupuncture or moxibustion was superior or equal to conventional treatment, such as local anesthetic injection, local steroid injection, non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs, or ultrasound. There were six low quality RCTs that compared acupuncture and moxibustion combined with manual acupuncture alone, and all showed that acupuncture and moxibustion combined was superior to manual acupuncture alone.
Moderate quality studies suggest that acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture. Interpretations of findings regarding acupuncture vs. conventional treatment, and acupuncture and moxibustion combined vs. manual acupuncture alone are limited by the methodological qualities of these studies. Future studies with improved methodological design are warranted to confirm the efficacy of acupuncture and moxibustion for LEP.
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1. McDonald, John & Janz, Stephen. (2016). The Acupuncture Evidence Project : A Comparative Literature Review (Revised). Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association Ltd, Coorparoo
2. Gadau M, Yeung WF, Liu H, Zaslawski C, Tan YS, Wang FC, et al. Acupuncture and moxibustion for lateral elbow pain: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014;14:136.
3. Tang H, Fan H, Chen J, Yang M, Yi X, Dai G, et al. Acupuncture for Lateral Epicondylitis: A Systematic Review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:861849.