Acupuncture as a Relief for Tendonitis

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Acupuncture as a relief for tendonitis

Tendonitis can affect anyone, but it is most commonly seen in athletes and individuals whose work involves repetitive motions. This condition afflicts many individuals, leading them to explore both conventional and unconventional treatment options. Among these alternatives, acupuncture has garnered significant attention for its proven effectiveness.

Acupuncture, as an alternative pain relief method, offers promise in managing tendonitis – inflammation or irritation of a tendon.  This article explores acupuncture as a complementary approach to tendonitis management, highlighting relevant studies.

What is Tendonitis?

Symptoms include a dull ache, tenderness, and mild swelling.   The condition may occur due to overuse, injury, or age-related wear and tear.

Different Types of Tendonitis

Types of tendonitis

There are several types of tendonitis, each named based on the tendon affected or the activity that typically causes the condition. Some of the common types include:

  • Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis): This includes inflammation of the tendons on the outer elbow, usually due to repetitive twisting and gripping activities, not just playing tennis.
  • Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis): Similar to tennis elbow, it involves the tendons of the elbow but affects the inner part of the elbow instead.
  • Achilles Tendonitis: This is characterized by inflammation and pain at the back of the heel affecting the Achilles tendon, often caused by excessive running or jumping.
  • Rotator Cuff Tendonitis: This affects the shoulder tendons and is common in people who perform overhead activities like painting, lifting, or throwing a ball.
  • Jumper’s Knee (Patellar Tendonitis): This condition impacts the tendon between the kneecap and the shinbone and is often seen in athletes who do a lot of jumping, hence the name.

Each of these forms of tendonitis can cause significant discomfort. Fortunately, treatments like acupuncture can help with the management of symptoms. Let’s explore how acupuncture for conditions like tennis elbow and others may be beneficial.

Traditional Treatments for Tendonitis

Typically, tendonitis is managed through rest, medication, and physical therapy. In severe cases, surgery becomes necessary. While these treatments offer relief, they may also have limitations and side effects.

Acupuncture for Pain Relief

Acupuncture for pain relief to knee pain

Acupuncture, a pillar of Traditional Chinese Medicine, is not just another option but a promising solution for those looking for non-pharmacological interventions for tendonitis. Employing the technique of inserting very thin needles into specific points in the body, acupuncture aims to rebalance the body’s energy flow or ‘Qi. This process is believed to stimulate healing, reduce inflammation and pain, and improve overall wellness. In the context of treating tendonitis, acupuncture can help by targeting specific meridian points linked to affected tendons, thereby helping to alleviate pain and boost recovery.

How Does Acupuncture Relieve the Symptoms of Tendonitis?

Acupuncture alleviates the symptoms of tendonitis through several mechanisms.

  1. It stimulates the nervous system to release chemical compounds like endorphins in the brain, spinal cord, and muscles. These chemicals alter the perception of pain and promote a sense of well-being.
  2. Acupuncture has anti-inflammatory effects. It triggers the release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors, which help reduce swelling and inflammation around the affected tendon.
  3. It enhances blood circulation to the area around the inserted needles, which aids in healing and recovery by supplying more oxygen and nutrients to the inflamed tissues.
Acupuncture treatment to arm

Is Acupuncture for Tendonitis Supported by Scientific Research?

Acupuncture has gained significant support from numerous research studies and clinical evidence for its effectiveness in managing tendonitis. For instance, a randomized clinical trial compared the effects of acupuncture and a placebo needle in treating rotator cuff tendinitis. The study revealed a significant improvement in the Constant-Murley-score among the acupuncture group, showcasing the beneficial role of acupuncture beyond pain treatment.

Moreover, as an alternative method for treating calcifying tendonitis of the gluteus medius, acupuncture combined with small needle scalpel therapy has been proposed. Another study highlighted acupuncture’s ability to induce local vasodilation within human tissue, potentially facilitating tendon blood flow.

Acupuncture’s contribution to the healing process of tendons may involve the modulation of systemic AI and local mechanisms, as presented in a report. Additionally, electro-acupuncture has been recommended for treating Achilles tendonitis, particularly when initiated in the acute or subacute stage.

In a study involving rat tendon healing, acupuncture was found to increase the diameter and reorganization of collagen fibrils, suggesting its potential role in rehabilitation protocols.

Although some studies have shown immediate benefits of acupuncture for tennis elbow, further research is needed to determine its long-term effectiveness. A study from 2002 reported initial relief, highlighting the potential for positive outcomes.

Similarly, a 2005 study combined results from six different studies yielded mixed results, with some reporting significant pain relief and others showing no difference compared to placebo or other therapies. However, despite the varied results, practitioners have reported beneficial outcomes when combining acupuncture with physical therapy for tennis elbow, indicating its potential effectiveness as a pain relief modality.

Comparing Acupuncture with Other Treatments

When compared to other treatments for tendonitis, acupuncture offers a unique combination of effectiveness, cost-efficiency, minimal risks, and accessibility.

Hire a Qualified Acupuncturist for Tendonitis Treatment

When it comes to choosing an acupuncturist, it is crucial to prioritize experience and certification. This ensures not only your safety but also the effectiveness of the treatment. Take the time to thoroughly research and consult with professionals in the field before proceeding with any acupuncture treatment. By doing so, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are making an informed decision for your health and well-being.

Solis Acupuncturists are highly trained and experienced in providing acupuncture for pain relief, including tendonitis. Our team has a proven track record of success in treating various ailments, including tennis elbow and other forms of tendonitis. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions


While acupuncture cannot replace traditional medical treatment, it can serve as a valuable complementary approach to managing tendonitis. As always, discuss with healthcare providers about integrating acupuncture into your treatment plan.

If you’re considering acupuncture for tendonitis, Solis is here to help. Schedule an appointment online or call us at (831) 464-1605.

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Lishanna Emmert, DAOM, L.Ac

Lishanna Emmert, DAOM, L.Ac

Dr. Emmert has been treating chronic pain for 15 years. After obtaining her Master’s in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, she went on to do a Doctoral Program through the Henan University In China, then a second Doctoral program in San Jose, CA. Lishanna has done certification programs in functional nutrition, whole food supplements for pain and sports injury, orthopedic acupuncture, and functional herbal medicine.