Repetitive low-energy shock wave treatment for chronic lateral epicondylitis in tennis players

Jan D Rompe, Jens Decking, Carsten Schoellner, Christoph Theis
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2004, 32 (3): 734-43

BACKGROUND: There is conflicting evidence regarding extracorporeal shock wave treatment for chronic tennis elbow.

HYPOTHESIS: Treatment with repetitive low-energy extracorporeal shock wave treatment is superior to repetitive placebo extra-corporeal shock wave treatment.

METHODS: Seventy-eight patients enrolled in a placebo-controlled trial. All patients were tennis players with recalcitrant MRI-confirmed tennis elbow of at least 12 months' duration. Patients were randomly assigned to receive either active low-energy extracorporeal shock wave treatment given weekly for 3 weeks (treatment group 1) or an identical placebo extracorporeal shock wave treatment (sham group 2). Main outcome measure was pain during resisted wrist extension at 3 months; secondary measures were >50% reduction of pain and the Upper Extremity Function Scale.

RESULTS: At 3 months, there was a significantly higher improvement in pain during resisted wrist extension in group 1 than in group 2 (mean [SD] improvement, 3.5 [2.0] and 2.0 [1.9]; P =.001 for between-group difference of improvement) and in the Upper Extremity Function Scale (mean [SD] improvement, 23.4 [14.8] and 10.9 [14.9]; P <.001 for between-group difference of improvement). In the treatment group, 65% of patients achieved at least a 50% reduction of pain, compared with 28% of patients in the sham group (P =.001 for between-group difference).

CONCLUSION: Low-energy extracorporeal shock wave treatment as applied is superior to sham treatment for tennis elbow.

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