Acupuncture for the alleviation of lateral epicondyle pain: a systematic review

Dr. Kien Trinh, Associate Clinical Professor, Michael G. DeGroote of Medicine, McMaster University

Using the Best Evidence Synthesis Approach, there is strong evidence suggesting that acupuncture is effective in short-term pain relief for lateral epicondyle pain.




Lateral epicondyle pain is a common complaint in North America.  In the past 10 years, acupuncture is becoming increasingly recognized as an alternative treatment for pain, including epicondyle pain.  This review will evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for lateral epicondylitis using the appropriate analysis.

Online bibliographic database searches in any language from MEDLINE, PsychINFO, CINAHL, Healthstar, PMID, CAM, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Review (3rd Quarter 2003), articles listed in reference lists of key articles and the author’s personal files were performed.  Randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials examining the effects of acupuncture on lateral epicondyle pain were selected.  From the 6 studies that met inclusion criteria the first author, year of publication, population studied, drop out rate, treatment plan, assessment scale, and outcome measures were extracted.  Study quality was determined by using the Jadad scale in which all studies were rated as high quality.  A Best Evidence Synthesis Approach (BESA) was used to analyze the data presented in the 5 studies.

All the studies suggested that acupuncture was effective in the short term relief of lateral epicondyle pain.

We conclude that there is strong evidence suggesting that acupuncture is effective in the short-term relief of lateral epicondyle pain.


For a full copy of the article, please contact:

Dr. Kien (Ken) Vinh Trinh, MD, MSc
Assistant Clinical Professor, McMaster University, Faculty of Health Sciences
Programme Chair, Medical Acupuncture,
McMaster University Health Sciences Continuing Education
Director, Ancaster Sports Medicine Centre

Ancaster Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Centre
1015 Golf Links Road
Ancaster, Ontario, Canada L9G 4S4
Telephone: 1 (905) 648-4425
Fax:  1 (905) 648-4426