Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, occurs when pain is felt on the outer part of the elbow as a result of repetitive movements, such as clicking a mouse or using a screwdriver. Many of the muscles on the back of the forearm attach on to a small area just above the elbow. When these muscles are overworked or get unusually tight, they start to pull away at the bony surface to where they attach. This leads to inflammation and pain, coupled with the inability to perform tasks that are needed.
Treatment for tennis elbow can range from anti-inflammatory drugs, manual therapy, heat modalities, home-based rehabilitation, injection therapy, and surgery. Conservative means are often advised as a frontline intervention, and this is where dry needling is in the spotlight. Following research, there are encouraging results for patients suffering with lateral epicondylitis.
In a study performed by Hadi, D.W. et al., (2021), they looked into the effectiveness of using dry needling for tennis elbow. Patients underwent a four-week course of treatment and their pain scores were reported at the end of each week. Categorically, there was a vast improvement in patients in reducing pain and disability at the end of the four-week programme. Dry needling should be considered as a treatment modality amongst others, in helping those suffering with tennis elbow. The aim is to reduce pain, and to then allow those to undertake strength rehabilitation exercises to build the body's resilience to repetitive movements.