Skip to Content
Home > Wellness > Health Library > Corticosteroids for Tennis Elbow
relieve pain and
local anesthetic (lidocaine) may be used first to help
with diagnosis. If this shot improves the pain, then a corticosteroid injection
is given. Lidocaine is sometimes given with a corticosteroid to reduce the pain
of the injection.
A corticosteroid injection is
sometimes used to treat
tennis elbow. Corticosteroids are given to relieve the
pain of tennis elbow when other forms of treatment haven't helped.
If you don't find long-term relief after a total of three injections over
the course of a year, more injections aren't likely to help and may cause
Some doctors believe that corticosteroids should not be
given to children.
Corticosteroid treatment is not used when
infection is suspected.
Studies suggest that corticosteroid
injections may give short-term relief but don't have long-lasting benefit when
compared to other treatments.1 And a large analysis of many corticosteroid studies suggests that in the long term corticosteroids are worse than other treatments.2 For example, one study found that
although corticosteroid injection produced the most relief after 6 weeks, it
was linked to more relapse and pain after 6 weeks and after 52 weeks than
treatment with watchful waiting or rehabilitation.3
Corticosteroids are used with caution
because of potential side effects. Side effects may include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
Try using nonsurgical treatment
(such as rest, rehabilitation exercises, ice, and the use of
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve pain
and inflammation before considering corticosteroids.
There may be
fewer side effects and less pain when corticosteroids are given through
iontophoresis. Iontophoresis is a drug delivery method that uses an electrical
current to move the drug through the skin into the tissue. Because this method
is less painful than hypodermic needle delivery, some people may start
rehabilitation sooner and experience faster pain relief.4
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Buchbinder R, et al. (2008). Tennis elbow, search date
August 2006. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence:
Coombes BK, et al. (2010). Efficacy and safety of corticosteroid injections and other injections for management of tendinopathy: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Lancet, 376(9754): 1751–1767.
Bisset L, et al. (2006). Mobilisation with movement
and exercise, corticosteroid injection, or wait and see for tennis elbow:
Randomised trial. BMJ, 333(7575): 939.
Nirschl RP, et al. (2003). Iontophoretic
administration of dexamethasone sodium phosphate for acute epicondylitis.
American Journal of Sports Medicine, 31(2):
January 21, 2011
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Bardana, MD, FRCSC - Orthopedic Surgery, Sports Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Genesis HealthCare System | 1-800-322-4762