July 20, 2009

Strength training may tame tennis elbow

Elbow or forearm pain from tennis or other activities -- tennis elbow -- may be eased with a specific exercise, U.S. doctors say.

Lead author Timothy Tyler of the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma in New York City says tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis pain, was alleviated by a simple bar and strengthening exercise.

Compared to other treatments for tennis elbow such as cortisone injections or topical nitric oxide which require direct medical supervision and often side effects, this treatment is not only cost effective, but dosage is not limited by the patient having to come to a clinic, Tyler says in a statement.

The study randomized 21 patients with tennis elbow into two groups that both received the wrist extensor stretching, ultrasound, cross-friction massage, heat and ice for treatment.

However, one group also performed isolated eccentric wrist extensor strengthening using the rubber bar -- Flexbar -- while the other group performed isotonic wrist strengthening exercises. Patients using the rubber bar had vastly better results on all scales, especially related to strength, the study says.

The findings were presented in Keystone, Colo., at the annual meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.