Physical Therapy for Tennis Elbow: What Works Best?


Physical therapists often treat patients with tennis elbow, known as lateral epicondylitis. Finding the best treatment for this problem is a goal among therapists. In this study, physical therapy researchers report on the use of two treatments for patients with tennis elbow.

In one group, just the elbow was treated with ultrasound, massage, stretching, or joint mobilization. In a second group, patients received treatment of the elbow and manual therapy for the neck. Manual therapy of the neck included passive joint motion and muscle energy techniques.

The therapists report equal results for both groups. The added manual therapy of the neck did not seem to make a difference in patients’ final outcomes. However, patients getting treatment to the neck and elbow had fewer visits.

This is the first long-term study of its kind. This type of study looks at current treatment practices and finds the most effective treatment method. Physical therapy helps tennis elbow in about 80 percent of all cases. Treatment with manual therapy to the neck may be more efficient.