Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Elbow FAQ


I saw a report on TV about the use of radiofrequency to treat chronic tennis elbow. When I went in to have my tendonitis treated, no one even mentioned this as an option. Why not?


Radiofrequency (RF) is a heat treatment applied to the tendon during arthroscopic surgery. It requires a special RF-based device used to generate the energy waves. A needle-like wand is used to apply the energy to the tendon. The tip of the wand is touched to the surface of the tendon.

Many tiny holes are "burned" into the tendon. The new wound sets up an inflammatory response to begin the healing process. New blood flow to the area helps restore tissue to normal.

Surgeons may not be familiar with the use of this treatment method. They may not have the equipment or training. On the other hand some surgeons may be concerned about the amount of tissue damage that can occur with this treatment. Damage can occur to nearby tissues. Holes can be burned too deep, going into the cartilage or joint.

More studies are needed to show long-term results before RF tenotomy is adopted as a standard treatment for tendon problems.

James P. Tasto, M.D., et al. Microtenotomy Using a Radiofrequency Probe to Treat Lateral Epicondylitis. In Arthroscopy. July 2005. Vol. 21. No. 7. Pp. 851-860.

*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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