Extracorporeal shock wave treatment for chronic lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)

Issues Emerg Health Technol. 2007 Jan;(96 (part 2)):1-4.


(1) Electrohydraulic, electromagnetic, or piezoelectric devices are used to translate energy into acoustic waves during extracorporeal shock wave treatment (ESWT) for chronic lateral epicondylitis (CLE) of the elbow (elbow tendonitis or tennis elbow). These waves may help to accelerate the healing process via an unknown mechanism. (2) Results from randomized controlled trials have been conflicting. Half of the studies showed statistically significant improvement in pain in the treatment group, and half of the studies had data showing no benefit over placebo for any measured outcomes. (3) Limited evidence shows that ESWT is cheaper than arthroscopic surgery, open surgery, and other conservative therapies, such as steroid infiltrations and physiotherapy, that continue for more than six weeks. (4) The lack of convincing evidence regarding its effectiveness does not support the use of ESWT for CLE.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Chronic Disease
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Device Approval
  • High-Energy Shock Waves* / adverse effects
  • High-Energy Shock Waves* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Tennis Elbow / diagnostic imaging*
  • Tennis Elbow / physiopathology
  • Tennis Elbow / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography