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Shock wave therapy futile for tennis elbow

Shock wave therapy is not effective for treating tennis elbow.

Shock wave therapy futile for tennis elbow

Shock wave therapy is not effective in treating tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is an overuse injury to tendons around the outer side of the elbow and often arises in racquet-sport players, but can also result from other repetitive arm motions, such as using a screwdriver, hammering or painting. While the condition generally improves on its own, it may persist in a small percentage of people. The extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) has been tried for tennis elbow, in which shock waves are focused on the problem area. ESWT is believed to work by causing microscopic injuries to the affected tissue that stimulate the healing process. However, scientific evidence for the benefits of ESWT for tennis elbow is lacking. To investigate the efficacy of shock wave therapy in treating tennis elbow, researchers from Australia tested 68 patients with tennis elbow. The participants were randomly given three ultrasound-guided ESWT sessions or 3 treatments at a subtherapeutic dose at weekly intervals. It was found that the patients treated with ESWT and control patients who were given a sub-therapeutic dose of shock wave therapy experienced similar improvements in pain and function at 6 months. No differences were found between the groups in any outcome measure at the 6-week and 6-month follow-up visits. The above findings indicate that the use of ESWT is of little use in reducing pain and improving arm function for those suffering from tennis elbow.
Journal of Rheumatology
October 2008
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