Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ


Have you ever heard of shock wave therapy for tennis elbow? What is it? Does it work?


Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a way to generate sound waves outside the body that can be focused at a specific site within the body. This treatment technique is also referred to as pressure or sound wave therapy.

Pressure waves travel through fluid and soft tissue to sites where there is a change in tissue density. A common interface is where the soft tissues meet bone. A special ESWT device delivers shockwaves to the target point where treatment is needed. The shockwaves break down scar tissue that has built up. The body's repair mechanisms are stimulated to promote healing. New blood vessels develop in the injured area to help jump start the healing process.

ESWT is a noninvasive, outpatient procedure. In some cases, only a single, 30-minute session is needed. Early studies report it is safe and effective. More research is needed to find out who can benefit the most and how and when to use this type of therapy. Ryan P. Calfee, MD, et al. Management of Lateral Epicondylitis: Current Concepts. In Journal of the America Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. January 2008. Vol. 16. No. 1. Pp. 19-29.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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