An Australian study published in the February 5, 2013 issue of the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ found that patients treated with a single corticosteroid injection for “Tennis Elbow” (also known as ‘Lateral Epicondylitis‘) had a 14% greater chance of poor outcome and a 77% increased risk for re-injury at 1 year relative to a placebo.
Although corticosteroids have potent anti-inflammatory effects, they also possess catabolic effects that can degrade or weaken injured or degenerated tendons. Sometimes this can lead to tears and a consequent reconstructive surgery.
In this same Australian study, eight weeks of physical therapy consisting largely of gripping and latex band exercises for the forearm also appeared to have no long-term benefit, with the exception of decreased need for pain medicine. Interestingly, while this exercise therapy did improve short-term pain and disability outcomes at one month, those benefits were lost when corticosteroid injection was added to the treatment!
Many people, including many health care providers often assume that Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis) is largely an inflammatory condition. Instead, the underlying cause usually has more to do with mechanical stress and ultimate degeneration of those muscle-tendon unit(s) in the forearm that are anchored to a portion of bone along the side of the elbow, known as the ‘lateral epicondyle.’
Therefore, in those particular cases where inflammation is a factor, according to this study, cortisone injections provide only temporary relief, at best.
We believe we have a better ‘answer’ to Tennis Elbow
Our office offers a distinctly successful protocol for many Tennis Elbow sufferers that addresses most of the more significant muscular/mechanical factors that are involved in this condition. In many cases, particularly those uncomplicated by advanced tendinosis or other co-existing medical issues, we often observe positive results in as soon as 3-5 treatment sessions. We invite those who are suffering with this injury to arrange a consultation with us to determine if our protocols might be right for you.