The Continuing Search for Better Tennis Elbow Treatments

Pain, weak grip strength, and decreased quality of life (QOL). These are the challenges patients with chronic tennis elbow face everyday. Researchers trying to find a way to treat this problem compared two groups of patients. One group got a local injection of botulinum toxin type A. The second (placebo) group received an injection of saline. Based on pain, strength, and QOL, they found no difference between the two groups. Measurements were taken before and three months after treatment.

Studies of tissue at the painful site show no actual inflammation involved with tennis elbow. Some reports have shown botulinum A works for tennis elbow that hasn't responded to other treatment. Botulinum A paralyzes the painful elbow muscle. The goal is to allow the muscle to heal. The injection works for about three to four months.

The authors conclude that botulinum A is not an effective treatment for chronic tennis elbow. They suggest a second study with a larger number of patients since there were only 20 patients in each group. Grip strength would be a better measure of change than the subjective measure of pain.

References: M. J. Hayton, FRCS (Tr and Orth), et al. Botulinum Toxin Injection in the Treatment of Tennis Elbow. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. March 2005. Vol. 87-A. No. 3. Pp.503-507.