Table 3

Evidence for effectiveness of electrophysical modalities for epicondylitis†

Ultrasound (US)LaserElectrotherapyPulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF)Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT)
 US* vs placebo or no treatment  Short term ±Laser* vs placebo  Short term ±Noxious level electrical stimulation over the platelet tender points* vs placeboPEMF compared to placeboLow-frequency vs high-frequency TENS on acupuncture pointsESWT vs placebo
 Mid-term++ Mid-termENE Short term+ Short termENE Short termENE Short term±
 Long termENE Mid termENE
 Long termENE
US vs US plus friction massage   Short term (<3 months) ENELaser vs placebo and plyometric exercises  Short term ++InterX and soft tissue massage, stretching, US and exercise vs soft tissue massage, stretching, US and exercise.Low-frequency TENS on acupuncture points* vs placeboESWT vs percutaneous tenotomy
 Short termENE Short term+ Short termENE
 Long termENE Long termENE
US vs exercises*  Long term +Laser vs US plus friction massage*  Short term ++High-frequency TENS on acupuncture points* vs placebo  Short termESWT vs corticosteroid injection*
+ Short term+
 Long termENE
US plus exercises vs a brace plus exercises vs laser therapy plus exercisesESWT vs physical therapy  Short term ENE
 Short termENE Mid-termENE
 Long termENE
US* vs chiropractic therapy
 Short term+
US vs acupuncture therapy
 Short termENE
  • †For medial epicondylitis no RCTs on electrophysical modalities were found.

  • +, Limited evidence found; ++, moderate evidence found; +++, strong evidence found; ±, conflicting evidence for effectiveness; *, in favour of; ENE, evidence of no effect of the treatment; interX, new electric modality; RCTs available, but no differences between intervention and control groups were found.