Date Published: 1 October 2006
Steroid injections do not provide long-term relief from tennis elbow
Physiotherapy or a “wait and see” approach are both more effective in tackling tennis elbow than corticosteroid (steroid) injections, according to a UQ study published today in the British Medical Journal.
Dr Bill Vicenzino of the University of Queensland (UQ)'s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences said the study tested different treatments on three separate groups of patients with tennis elbow (pain on the outside of the elbow).
The study was conducted by UQ researchers including Ms Elaine Beller, Professor Gwendolen Jull, Professor Peter Brooks, Dr Ross Darnell, Dr Vicenzino and UQ PhD student Leanne Bisset.
The researchers allocated the “wait and see” approach to one group of participants. Group members were reassured that the condition would eventually settle down and encouraged to wait. They were also given specific instructions on modifying their daily activities to avoid aggravating their pain.
A second group was given a local corticosteroid injection and advised to gradually return to normal activities.
The final group received eight treatments of physiotherapy of 30 minutes over six weeks and taught home exercises and self-manipulation. The physiotherapy group also received a resistant exercise band and exercise instruction booklet.
Each group's progress was measured at six weeks, and again after a year.
The study also found that the superior long-term effects of physiotherapy were replicated by the wait and see approach – at the end of the study participants in both the physiotherapy and wait and see group had either much improved or completely recovered.
The British Medical Journal article said that
Dr Vicenzino said the study findings also supported the idea that tennis elbow is, in most cases, a self-limiting condition. He said the researchers concluded that
UQ is currently seeking further people with tennis elbow to participate in ongoing studies. Volunteers need to be 18–65 years old with pain in one elbow, aggravated by activities such as gripping, squeezing, lifting objects or playing sports.
Source: Queensland University, Australia.