Dry Needling for Tennis Elbow

Dry Needling for Tennis Elbow : All in One!

Dry needling is an effective treatment for tennis elbow, providing relief and promoting healing. In this therapy, thin needles are inserted into trigger points to release tension and restore proper function to the affected muscles.

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common overuse injury that causes pain and inflammation in the tendons of the forearm. It typically occurs due to repetitive motions, such as gripping or swinging a tennis racket. While various treatments are available for tennis elbow, dry needling has become a popular and effective option.

This therapy involves the insertion of thin needles directly into trigger points or tight knots in the muscles, releasing tension and promoting healing. Unlike acupuncture, which focuses on restoring energy flow, dry needling primarily targets muscular tension and trigger points. We will explore the benefits of dry needling for tennis elbow and how it can help alleviate pain and improve function.

Read More: 8 Easiest way for Tennis Elbow Test

Table of Contents

Understanding Tennis Elbow And Its Causes

Understanding Tennis Elbow and Its Causes Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the outer part of the elbow. This ailment primarily affects people who engage in repetitive arm movements, such as tennis players, painters, and plumbers. 

What is tennis elbow? 

Tennis elbow is a condition that develops when the tendons in the elbow are overused and become damaged. You don’t have to play tennis to experience this issue despite its name. Any activity that involves repetitive arm motion can lead to the development of a tennis elbow. The repetitive strain on the forearm muscles causes micro-tears in the tendons, leading to pain, swelling, and tenderness outside the elbow. 

Read More: 11 Proven Tennis Elbow Exercises to Relieve Pain

Common causes of tennis elbow 

Repetitive motions

Engaging in frequent and repetitive forearm motions, such as playing tennis, painting, typing, or using tools, can increase the risk of developing tennis elbow. These repetitive movements stress the tendons, making them prone to injury and inflammation. 

Improper technique

Incorrect form and technique while participating in sports or physical activities can contribute to the onset of tennis elbow. For example, gripping a tennis racket too tightly or using poor body mechanics during weightlifting can place excessive strain on the tendons in the elbow. 

Age and gender

While tennis elbow can affect individuals of all ages, it tends to be more common among individuals between the ages of 30 and 50. Furthermore, men are more likely to develop this condition than women. 

Previous injuries or conditions

Individuals who have previously injured their elbow or have had conditions like arthritis may be more susceptible to developing tennis elbow. These factors weaken the tendons, making them more prone to injury during repetitive activities. 

Read More: How to sleep with Tennis Elbow Pain: 5 Tips for Sleeping- Best/Worst Positions

How does tennis elbow affect daily life? 

Tennis elbow can significantly impact daily life, causing discomfort and limiting one’s ability to perform certain activities. The pain and stiffness of tennis elbow can make even simple tasks challenging. Here are some ways in which tennis elbow can affect daily life: 

Difficulty with gripping

Tennis elbow can make it difficult to grip objects firmly. This can make everyday activities, such as holding a coffee mug, turning a doorknob, or even shaking hands with someone, painful and uncomfortable. 

Limitations in physical activities

Engaging in sports and physical activities that require repetitive arm movements can become challenging due to tennis elbow. Tennis players may struggle with their backhand shots, while painters may struggle manipulating brushes. These limitations can significantly impact one’s enjoyment of recreational activities and even their professional work. 

Sleeping troubles

Tennis elbow pain can often worsen at night, making finding a comfortable sleeping position challenging. Tossing and turning to find relief can lead to disrupted sleep patterns and fatigue throughout the day. 

Impact on overall well-being

The persistent pain and limitations brought about by tennis elbow can impact a person’s overall well-being. It can cause frustration, stress, and even decreased self-esteem. 

Traditional Treatment Options For Tennis Elbow

Tennis elbow is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the tendons on the outside of the elbow. It is a common injury among athletes and individuals who engage in repetitive activities that strain the elbow joint. While several treatment options are available, traditional methods focus on relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and promoting healing.

Rest and ice therapy

Rest and ice therapy are often the first lines of treatment for tennis elbow. By allowing the affected area to rest and reducing inflammation with ice, this approach helps to alleviate pain and facilitate healing. Applying ice packs to the elbow for 15-20 minutes several times a day can provide significant relief. Wrapping the ice pack in a towel to protect the skin from direct contact and avoid applying ice directly to the area is important.

Physical therapy exercises

Physical therapy exercises play a crucial role in the treatment of tennis elbow. These exercises focus on strengthening the muscles and tendons in the forearm and improving flexibility. The goal is to gradually increase the strength and endurance of the affected area, reducing the risk of re-injury and promoting long-term recovery. Examples of physical therapy exercises for tennis elbow include wrist curls, forearm pronation and supination, and eccentric exercises.

Pain medications and anti-inflammatories

Pain medications and anti-inflammatories are commonly recommended to manage the pain and reduce inflammation associated with tennis elbow. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help alleviate pain and reduce swelling. It is important to follow the dosage instructions and consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most suitable medication and duration of use.

While traditional treatment options for tennis elbow can be effective, they may not provide immediate or long-term relief for some individuals. In such cases, alternative therapies like dry needling may be considered. Dry needling involves the insertion of thin needles into trigger points within the affected muscles to alleviate pain, improve blood flow, and promote healing. This innovative technique has gained popularity as a complementary treatment option for tennis elbow and has shown promising results in relieving pain and improving function.

Introducing Dry Needling As An Effective Alternative Treatment

Tennis elbow can be a debilitating condition that affects individuals who frequently use their elbows, such as athletes and individuals with physically demanding occupations. While traditional treatment options like rest, medications, and physical therapy have long been relied upon, there is a growing interest in alternative treatments like dry needling.

What is Dry Needling?

Dry needling is a therapeutic technique that involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points in the body to relieve pain and promote healing. Unlike acupuncture needles, these needles are called dry needles because they are not injected with any substance. This technique aims to target trigger points or areas of tight muscle fibers that contribute to pain and limited range of motion.

How Does Dry Needling Work to Relieve Tennis Elbow?

Dry needling can be an effective treatment option for individuals suffering from tennis elbow. When the needles are inserted into the trigger points, they create micro-injuries that stimulate the body’s natural healing response. This prompts the release of endorphins, natural pain-relieving chemicals that improveblood circulation to the affected area. By relieving muscle tension and promoting tissue repair, dry needling can help reduce inflammation and alleviate the pain associated with tennis elbow.

Benefits of Dry Needling for Tennis Elbow

Dry needling offers several benefits as an alternative treatment for tennis elbow:

  • Pain Relief: Dry needling can provide immediate pain relief by targeting the underlying trigger points and releasing muscle tension.
  • Improved Range of Motion: By relaxing the muscles and reducing inflammation, dry needling can help restore and improve the range of motion in the affected elbow.
  • Non-Invasive: Unlike surgical interventions, dry needling is a non-invasive treatment option that does not require incisions or scarring.
  • Quick Recovery: Dry needling sessions are usually short and require little to no downtime, allowing individuals to resume their regular activities promptly.
  • No Medications: Dry needling does not rely on medications or drugs, making it a natural and drug-free treatment option.

If you are experiencing the pain and limitations of tennis elbow, considering dry needling as an alternative treatment option may be worthwhile. Consult a qualified healthcare professional or physical therapist to determine if dry needling suits your specific condition.

The Dry Needling Procedure For Tennis Elbow

When finding effective treatments for tennis elbow, dry needling has emerged as a popular option. This minimally invasive procedure involves the insertion of thin, sterile needles into specific trigger points in the affected muscles, aiming to alleviate pain and promote healing. In this article, we’ll explore the various aspects of the dry needling procedure for tennis elbow, including preparation and assessment, sterilization and needle insertion, and the number of sessions required for optimal results.

Preparation and Assessment

Before undergoing dry needling for tennis elbow, thorough preparation and assessment are essential for a successful outcome. This begins with a comprehensive evaluation of your medical history and examining the affected area. Your healthcare professional will assess the severity of your tennis elbow, identify the specific trigger points that contribute to your pain, and determine the most appropriate treatment plan.

During the preparation phase:

  1. Your healthcare professional will explain the procedure, addressing any concerns or questions.
  2. You may be asked to provide information about any existing medical conditions or medications you are taking that could potentially interfere with the procedure.

During the assessment phase:

  • Your healthcare professional will evaluate your range of motion, muscle strength, and the level of pain you experience during certain activities.
  • Specific trigger points contributing to your tennis elbow pain will be identified and marked.
  • The number and location of needles will be determined based on the assessment findings.

Sterilization and Needle Insertion

Sterilization and proper handling of the needles are of utmost importance during the dry needling procedure for tennis elbow. Your healthcare professional will take all necessary precautions to maintain a safe and sterile environment, minimizing the risk of infection or other complications.


   Steps for Sterilization 

  1. The practitioner washes their hands thoroughly and puts on sterile gloves.  

  2. The needle packaging is carefully opened using sterile techniques.  

  3. Single-use, disposable needles are utilized for each patient to maintain sterility.  

  Needle Insertion:

  1. The healthcare professional will locate the previously marked trigger points and prepare the area with an antiseptic solution.
  2. A single-use, sterile needle will be inserted into each trigger point, typically to a depth of a few millimetres.
  3. You may experience mild discomfort during needle insertion, but the procedure is generally well-tolerated.

Number of Sessions Required for Optimal Results

The number of dry needling sessions required for optimal results can vary depending on the severity and duration of your tennis elbow. In most cases, sessions will be recommended for sustained pain relief and improved functionality.

Your healthcare professional will develop a personalized treatment plan based on your individual needs, which may involve:

  • 1. An initial session to assess your response to dry needling and gauge its effectiveness in reducing pain.
  • 2. Follow-up sessions are scheduled regularly to provide ongoing pain relief and support healing.
  • 3. Gradual adjustments to the treatment plan based on your progress and response to the procedure.

Remember, consistency is key in dry needling for tennis elbow. Adhering to the recommended number of sessions increases your chances of experiencing optimal results and long-term relief from your tennis elbow pain.

Potential Risks And Side Effects Of Dry Needling

Common side effects of dry needling

Dry needling is considered a safe treatment option for tennis elbow, but it can have some side effects like any medical procedure. Patients need to be aware of these potential risks before undergoing the therapy. While the majority of individuals experience minimal side effects, some common issues can arise after dry needling. These may include:

  • Muscle soreness: After the procedure, it is normal to experience mild to moderate muscle soreness in the treated area. This discomfort is temporary and usually resolves within a few days.
  • Minor bleeding or bruising: Small amounts of bleeding or bruising may occur at the needle site due to the insertion of the needles. These are typically minor and are resolved without intervention.
  • Temporary aggravation of symptoms: In some cases, tennis elbow symptoms may temporarily worsen immediately after dry needling. This is a normal response, and the temporary aggravation usually subsides within a few days.

Rare risks and complications to consider

Although rare, there are some potential risks and complications associated with dry needling. It is important to discuss these with your healthcare professional and weigh the potential benefits against the risks.

Some of the rare risks and complications of dry needling include:

  1. Infection: While sterile needles are used during the procedure, there is still a slight risk of infection at the insertion points. This risk is minimized through proper hygiene and sterile technique.
  2. Pneumothorax: In extremely rare instances, dry needling could result in a puncture of the lung lining, leading to a collapsed lung (pneumothorax). This risk is higher in individuals with pre-existing lung conditions or those who have undergone surgery in the chest area.
  3. Nerve injury: Although uncommon, there is a small risk of nerve injury during dry needling. This risk can be minimized by ensuring that the practitioner is experienced and well-trained in the technique.

Precautions to take before undergoing dry needling

Before undergoing dry needling for tennis elbow, there are some precautions you should keep in mind. These measures will help ensure your safety and improve the overall effectiveness of the treatment:

  • Choose a qualified practitioner: It is essential to find a licensed healthcare professional who has the necessary training and experience in dry needling. This will minimize the risk of complications.
  • Communicate your medical history: Inform the practitioner about any pre-existing medical conditions, especially lung or nerve-related issues. They can then determine if dry needling is suitable for you.
  • Ask about the sterilization process: Inquire about the sterilization techniques used for the needles. Ensure that the practitioner follows strict hygiene protocols to reduce the risk of infection.
  • Follow post-procedure instructions: After dry needling, follow any guidelines provided by your healthcare professional. This may include applying ice to the treated area, avoiding strenuous activities, and taking over-the-counter pain medication if needed.

By being aware of the potential side effects and taking necessary precautions, you can make an informed decision about whether dry needling is the right treatment option for your tennis elbow. Remember to consult with a qualified professional to discuss your specific situation and explore all available treatment options.

Success Stories Of Dry Needling For Tennis Elbow

Qualifications and Certifications to Look for

When it comes to finding a qualified dry-needling practitioner for your tennis elbow, it’s essential to know what qualifications and certifications to look for. These credentials are a testament to the practitioner’s level of expertise and knowledge in the field. Here are some key qualifications and certifications you should consider:

  • Board certification in dry needling
  • Advanced training in musculoskeletal conditions and sports injuries
  • Membership in recognized professional organizations such as the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM)
  • A minimum of several years of experience practising dry-needling therapy

By ensuring your chosen practitioner possesses these qualifications and certifications, you can feel confident in their ability to effectively diagnose and treat your tennis elbow.

Questions to Ask a Dry Needling Practitioner

When seeking a dry needling practitioner, it’s crucial to ask the right questions to ensure they are the right fit for your needs. Consider these inquiries to make an informed decision:

  1. What is your experience in treating tennis elbow with dry needling therapy?
  2. Are you certified by a recognized board or organization?
  3. Do you have any testimonials or references from previous patients?
  4. What other treatment modalities do you use in conjunction with dry needling?
  5. What is your approach to pain management and discomfort during and after the procedure?

Asking these questions will provide you with valuable insights into the practitioner’s expertise, their methods for treating tennis elbow, and their commitment to patient satisfaction.

Finding a Practitioner Near You

When looking for a dry needling practitioner to address your tennis elbow, it’s important to find one conveniently located near you. Here are some effective ways to find a practitioner in your area:

  • Ask for recommendations from your primary care physician or orthopaedic specialist.
  • Seek referrals from friends, family, or colleagues who have undergone dry needling therapy.
  • Use online directories and search engines to find local dry-needling practitioners.
  • Check professional organization websites, such as the AAAOM, for practitioner directories.

By utilizing these methods, you’ll be on your way to finding a qualified dry-needling practitioner conveniently located near you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dry Needling For Tennis Elbow

As a popular treatment option for tennis elbow, dry needling provides effective relief for those suffering from this painful condition. However, it’s natural to have some questions and concerns before considering this procedure. In this section, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about dry needling for tennis elbow to help you make an informed decision.

How long does the relief from dry needling last?

One of the common concerns individuals have regarding dry needling for tennis elbow is how long the relief will last. While the effects can vary depending on the individual’s condition and other factors, it’s important to note that dry needling often provides immediate relief after the session. The results can last for several days to weeks, and in some cases, the relief may be long-term. However, it’s recommended to undergo multiple sessions to ensure maximum benefits and long-lasting relief.

Is dry needling a painful procedure?

Many people wonder about the pain associated with dry needling for tennis elbow. The procedure involves inserting thin needles into specific trigger points or affected areas in the muscles. While it may sound intimidating, dry needling is generally well-tolerated by patients. Some individuals may experience a brief sensation, similar to a muscle twitch, during the insertion of the needle. However, the discomfort is usually minimal and temporary. It’s crucial to remember that the level of pain can vary depending on individual pain tolerance and the severity of the condition.

Can dry needling be combined with other treatments for tennis elbow?

Dry needling can be an effective standalone treatment for tennis elbow, but combining it with other therapies can enhance the overall results. In many cases, healthcare professionals recommend a multi-modal approach that may include dry needling along with exercises, physical therapy, and other treatment modalities. This comprehensive approach addresses the underlying issues causing tennis elbow and helps promote faster healing and long-term pain relief.

However, it’s important to note that every individual is unique, and the best treatment plan may differ. Consulting with a healthcare professional who specializes in dry needling and tennis elbow can provide personalized guidance and recommendations based on your specific condition and needs.

Frequently Asked Questions On Dry Needling For Tennis Elbow

What Is Dry Needling And How Is It Used For Tennis Elbow?

Dry needling is a technique used to treat tennis elbow by inserting thin needles into trigger points within the affected muscles. This stimulates the body’s natural healing response, reduces pain, and improves mobility. It is a safe and effective alternative to traditional treatments like medication or surgery.

How Does Dry Needling Help In Relieving Tennis Elbow Pain?

Dry needling helps relieve tennis elbow pain by targeting the trigger points in the affected muscles. By inserting needles into these points it stimulates blood circulation, releases tension, and promotes the healing process. This results in reduced pain, improved muscle function, and a quicker recovery for tennis elbow.

Can Dry Needling Be Used As A Standalone Treatment For Tennis Elbow?

Dry needling can be used as a standalone treatment for tennis elbow, but its effectiveness may vary depending on the severity of the condition. It is often combined with other therapies like physical therapy, exercise, and stretching for better results.

Consulting with a healthcare professional can help determine the most appropriate treatment plan for individual cases.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Dry Needling For Tennis Elbow?

While dry needling for tennis elbow is generally safe, some potential side effects may include temporary soreness, bruising, or minor bleeding at the needle insertion site. These side effects are usually mild and go away on their own within a few days.

It is important to have the procedure performed by a qualified and experienced practitioner to minimize any risks.


Dry needling can be an effective treatment option for tennis elbow. By targeting the trigger points in the affected muscles, this technique helps relieve pain, promote healing, and restore functionality. However, it is important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before undergoing this procedure, as individual results may vary. Incorporating dry needling into a comprehensive treatment plan can provide significant benefits for individuals suffering from tennis elbow.


"Hasan", I am a physiotherapy Doctor. I have completed my B.S.c course (4 years) under Rajshahi University, Faculty of Medicine, Rajshahi. Currently I am working as a clinical physiotherapist at a renowned physiotherapy center and I am continuing my MPT (Master's of physiotherapy) degree at CRP, Savar.

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