Ultrasound Tendonitis Treatment for Golfer's Elbow

By Darin McGilvra

golfer with elbow pain
Ultrasound is a form of therapy that involves using sound waves. The sound waves help promote healing in soft tissues, such as tendons. Tendonitis is inflammation in a tendon. In golfers, the tendon is most commonly injured is found in the elbow, a condition often referred to as golfer's elbow.

Golfer's Elbow

Golfer's elbow is usually a result of poor swing technique. Symptoms include pain on the bony protrusion on the inside of the elbow, especially when the wrist is bent with the palm down or when the golfer grips something tightly. Weakness in the wrist is another symptom.

Stop Swinging

If you begin to feel symptoms of golfer's elbow, stop playing golf immediately. This injury happens because the tendon has been overused and continuing to use the tendon in the same manner that injured it will only make it worse. Taking ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory will make it feel better for a few hours, but it won't prevent the pain from returning.


In ultrasound treatment, a gel is used on the skin to help the sound waves reach the injured tendon. The head of the machine is constantly in motion to avoid unstable vibration in the cells that could cause damage to the elbow. A large head with a setting of 3 MHz usually is used to treat golfer's elbow.


Ultrasound should be applied to the injured tendon at least twice a week depending on the severity of the tendonitis. The more often it is applied, the faster the tendon will heal. Ultrasound can be applied up to three times a day. The treatment should last for three to five minutes. Personal ultrasound machines are available which allow the patient to treat himself at home.

How It Works

The sound waves help with healing in the tendon by warming the area, especially when the sound waves are applied continuously during the treatment session. This has the effect of stimulating blood flow; slowing nerve conduction, which decreases pain perception; increasing the metabolic rate, which speeds up healing; stimulating the immune system; and breaking down scar tissue. When the sound waves are pulsed, the heating effect is lessened, but the waves continue to promote healing in the tendon.

About the Author

Darin McGilvra is a writer in Southern California. He has been a writer since 1997. He worked as a sports writer and copy editor for newspapers for more than 12 years before becoming a freelance writer. His articles have appeared recently in "The Californian" newspaper in Temecula, Calif. McGilvra holds a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics education from Northwest Nazarene College.