Other treatment for tennis elbow pain includes physical rehabilitation (rehab), acupuncture, topical nitric oxide, shock wave therapy, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
Physical rehab is combined with tendon rest to restore flexibility and build muscle strength. Rehab is needed after surgery too.
Other treatment choices
A physical rehab program includes:
- Relieving pain.
- Maintaining good overall physical fitness.
- Exercises, including warm-ups , stretching , and strengthening .
- Learning new techniques for certain movements; using equipment that best suits your ability, body size, and strength; and limiting activities that require grasping or twisting arm movements.
- Retraining and ergonomic changes at your work site. For more information, see the topic Office Ergonomics.
Complementary or alternative medicine treatments
Complementary or alternative treatments are sometimes used along with traditional therapy to treat tennis elbow. Although there is no solid scientific evidence that these therapies relieve pain and restore elbow flexibility and strength, some people report them as helpful. Complementary or alternative treatments may include:
Acupuncture. Small studies report tennis elbow relief after acupuncture treatment. But there is not enough strong evidence to support or refute this treatment.5
- Topical nitric oxide. In a patch form, nitric oxide is applied to the elbow to speed recovery. This medicine has been used as a treatment for tennis elbow for a short time. One study showed positive results.6
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). TENS is sometimes used to treat tennis elbow, usually in a physical therapy setting.
- Extracorporeal shock wave therapy. A review of shock wave therapy for tennis elbow had conflicting findings. Some studies reported that shock wave therapy improved tennis elbow recovery. But others found that it offered no therapeutic benefit when compared to placebo treatment.7
What to think about
A physical rehab program not only helps heal injured tendons and muscles but also helps prevent further injury.
Physical rehab combined with tendon rest is the main tennis elbow treatment. Corticosteroid shots are only considered if several weeks of rest and rehab have not reduced symptoms. Surgery may be considered after 6 to 12 months of nonsurgical treatment.
If the type of work you do is causing your injury, an occupational therapist may help you change how you are working or the kind of work that you do.