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By P. Sze | Last updated: December 11, 2022

Everything You Need To Know About Acupuncture And Tennis Elbow

Acupuncture and acupressure have been around for quite some time now. As years passed, more and more health benefits due to acupuncture and acupressure have unraveled. Today, we are very well aware of the benefits of acupuncture for elbow bursitis, but the question is – Can acupuncture help tennis elbow symptoms too? Today we are here to discuss the link between acupuncture and tennis elbow. So, follow us if you want to find out more about these said benefits of acupuncture.

What Causes Tennis Elbow?

Lateral epicondylitis is the medical term for tennis elbow. It describes a condition in which painful inflammation is present within the elbow joint. The exact location of the pain is on the outside of the elbow since it is the lateral epicondyle that is affected. The pain is usually sharper while fully extending the arm. Some patients report experiencing shooting pain down the back of their forearms as well.

The pain affects the patient’s daily life. Even the simplest activities, such as lifting something or opening a jar, can cause pain. But what causes tennis elbow? The root of the problem is said to be the repetitive stress that weakens one of the extensors of the wrist. The extensor carpi radialis brevis helps extend our wrist. Because of the repetitive movements and stress, tiny tears in its tendon start to appear. These tears are especially present at the point where the muscle attaches to the lateral epicondyle, which explains the location of the pain.

Certain sports such as tennis, golfing, and swimming increase the risk of tennis elbow. In fact, it is tennis players that usually struggle with this condition, which explains the term itself. Working with hammers, screwdrivers, and other tools on a day-to-day basis can contribute to the development of tennis elbow as well. It is also referred to as mouse elbow since it is becoming quite a common injury in those whose job involves spending long periods of time on the computer.

Can Acupuncture Relieve Tennis Elbow Symptoms?

Up to 95% of the tennis elbow cases are solved using non-surgical interventions. Rest, ice packs, physical therapy, and steroid injections are the usual methods of the treatment. The goal is to reduce the present symptoms and, with that, to improve the patient’s general wellbeing. If the symptoms do not improve after a full year of treatment, surgery may be recommended.

A popular non-surgical symptom-relief technique involves the use of an at-home TENS unit. The TENS unit provides efficient pain relief while also acting as an electric massager for your muscles. Nowadays, there is quite a fascinating variety of choices available in stores and even on Amazon. The one that we would recommend is the TENS 7000, currently available on Amazon.


The TENS 7000 is a portable TENS unit, one that is easy to use at home or wherever you may be. It is a favorite among medical professionals for longer than ten years. The device comes with all of the accessories that you need for a full-at-home treatment. The best thing about it is that it can be used in any area where you may feel pain – your shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, etc.

Today we are here to discuss the use of two alternative treatments – acupuncture and acupressure in the treatment of tennis elbow. A 2015 review explained that acupuncture serves as an effective treatment for tennis elbow. Other reviews have come to the same conclusion as well while comparing different acupuncture techniques. Since then, acupuncture and tennis elbow go hand-in-hand speaking of the treatment process.

Acupuncture and acupressure are said to provide immediate relief to the present symptoms. On average, the pain relief effects last anywhere between 2 weeks up to one month, depending on the severity of the case. By placing needles or simply applying pressure on specific acupoints, it is possible to relieve a great deal of the pain caused by the inflammation within the elbow joint, while significantly reducing the inflammation as well. By restoring the flow of Qi in the body, it is possible to relieve the symptoms, not only those caused by tennis elbow but those caused by the variety of health issues in the human body.

Apply Acupressure At Home With These Seven Acupoints For Tennis Elbow

If you are interested in trying out acupuncture to relieve your tennis elbow pain, we recommend consulting a professional practitioner. But, if it is acupressure that you are more interested in, then we have some good news. Acupressure is easily done from the comfort of your own home.

All that you need to know are the right acupoints and where to find them. Keep in mind that each of these acupoints can be found on both sides of your body. To achieve the ultimate effects, stimulate both acupoints equally with your fingers or the TENS unit. Even if you feel pain on the affected side, which is highly likely to happen, do not ignore the acupoints on that side.

Start by applying mild pressure, especially on the affected side. When you feel comfortable, you can increase the pressure and apply circular motions as well. If you are wondering where to massage for tennis elbow, here are the acupoints that you need to know about.

  1. Acupoint: LI-10 (Other Names: Large Intestine-10/Shou San Li/Arm Three Miles)

Speaking of the most popular acupoint for tennis elbow, it has to be the LI-10. The majority of its benefits refer to the digestive system, as the term suggests. However, there are plenty of benefits for your elbow as well, all thanks to the LI-10 acupoint.

To accurately locate the LI-10, you will first need to flex your elbow. Then, using your pointer finger, measure, and mark the point 3 fingers below the elbow fold. This is where you will find the LI-10. By stimulating the LI-10, you can help relieve any pain and immobility of the arm. It can also help against the paralysis of the upper limb.

  1. Acupoint: LI-11 (Other Names: Large Intestine-11/Qu Chi/Pool at the Crook)

Next is LI-11. The LI-11 is located at the tip of the elbow flow.  You can locate this point easily when you bend your arm as shown above. This is another popular acupoint for soothing tennis elbow pain. Combining the LI-10 and the LI-11 will help against any impairment of the upper limb.

Note: You can also boost your immune system with LI-11 and these 12 other acupoints.

  1. Acupoint: LI-12 (Other Names: Large Intestine-12/Zhou Liao/Elbow Crevice)

Keep your elbow flexed for this next acupoint. The LI-12 is located approximately one cun (use the width of your thumb) above the LI-11. This acupoint is excellent for soothing tennis elbow pain. Daily stimulation will efficiently help eliminate the pain, numbness, and swelling in the elbow area.

  1. Acupoint: LU-5 (Other Names: Lung-5/Chi Ze/Cubit Marsh)

With your elbow still slightly flexed, locate the LU-5 acupoint. This acupoint is found on the elbow crease, around one inch lateral to the biceps tendon, in the depression of the elbow itself. Although the majority of the beneficial effects of the LU-5 revolve around the respiratory system, it is possible to soothe any spasms present in the forearm area.

  1. Acupoint: LU-6 (Other Names: Lung-6/Kong Zui/Maximum Opening)

The next acupoint of the lung meridian is the LU-6 acupoint. This point is about 4 fingers width (don’t use your thumb) below LU-5. Looking at the forearm from its palmar aspect, we can stimulate the LU-6 acupoint. Simulating the LU-6 can help against the spreading pain down the forearm, which is a problem for many tennis elbow patients. Along with the LU-5, the LU-6, too, can help soothe any spasms in this area and cause mouse elbow pain relief. LU-6 is also one of the effective acupressure points for cough.

  1. Acupoint: HT-3 (Other Names: Heart-3/Shao Hai/Lesser Sea)

Moving towards the medial epicondyle, we have the HT-3 acupoint. Its more precise location is in the depression that is between the cubital crease and the medial epicondyle. The HT-3 offers to soothe any spasms, numbness, and pain in the arm and hand, as well as eliminate any tremor of the hand as well.

  1. Acupoint: TE-6 (Other Names: Triple Energizer-6/Zhi Gou/Branch Ditch)

And the last, but certainly not least important acupoint is located near the wrist. Measure 4 fingers width (excluding your thumb) from the transversal crease of the wrist to locate the TE-6 acupoint. It is located between the radius and the ulna, on the dorsal aspect of the forearm. By periodically stimulating the TE-6, one can relieve pain radiating through the shoulder and the arm.

Note: You can also stimulate TE-6 and these 4 other acupoints for constipation


Although you may achieve good results by using conventional treatment methods, you may want to give some alternative treatments a try as well. Like acupuncture and acupressure, both of which lead to amazing improvements in the tennis elbow symptoms. We hope that you are going to take advantage of what we had to teach you about acupuncture and tennis elbow. Speaking of alternative treatments, you may also want to try cupping therapy for tennis elbow as well. Or maybe you will invest in a quality electric massager for tennis elbow. Whatever it is that you decide to give a try, we hope that you will succeed at relieving your symptoms.

Photo by Katherine Hanlon on Unsplash

Written by

P. Sze

P. Sze

P. Sze is the founder of TCM Tips and Dragon Acupuncture®. She graduated from the National University of Singapore with a first-class honor in Civil Engineering. She also holds a master’s degree in Engineering and is the brain behind the innovative TCM products of Dragon Acupuncture®. She is the author of The Beginner's Guide to Auricular Therapy: Application of Ear Seeds (ISBN 978-1520451398) and Facial Gua Sha - Fight the Signs of Aging Naturally and Inexpensively (ISBN 978-1980678922). She has dedicated her life to ensuring that the complex theories behind oriental medicine and the seemingly dangerous techniques that involve needles and fire do not scare you from trying oriental medicine. This is why she writes endlessly about acupressure and its countless health and wellness benefits.

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