Treating lateral epicondylitis

Sports Med. 1999 Nov;28(5):375-80. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199928050-00006.


Lateral epicondylitis is a common problem among physically active individuals. One of the most important roles of the clinician is to provide the most effective rehabilitation intervention for the injured athlete and the physically active individual. Over 40 different treatment methods for lateral epicondylitis have been reported in the literature. Initially, lateral epicondylitis can be treated with rest, ice, tennis brace and/or injections. Injections are one of the most popular methods utilised, with a high success rate. However, when the condition is chronic or not responding to initial treatment, physical therapy is initiated. Common rehabilitation modalities utilised are ultrasound, phonophoresis, electrical stimulation, manipulation, soft tissue mobilisation, neural tension, friction massage, augmented soft tissue mobilisation (ASTM) and stretching and strengthening exercise. ASTM is becoming a more popular modality due to the detection of changes in the soft tissue texture as the patient progresses through the rehabilitation process. Other new modalities include laser and acupuncture. As a last resort for chronic or resistant cases, lateral epicondylitis may undergo surgery. Scientific research has found that all these methods have been inconsistently effective in treating lateral epicondylitis. Therefore, further research efforts are needed to determine which method is more effective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Tennis Elbow / rehabilitation
  • Tennis Elbow / surgery
  • Tennis Elbow / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome