Simple Test Predicts Results of Bracing for Tennis Elbow

Dutch researchers report the Extensor Grip Test (EGT) can tell whether or not a patient with tennis elbow can be helped by a brace. The test was done by having the patient pull the hand and wrist back toward the face. Then the examiner gripped the patient's forearm just below the elbow.

The patient rested for one minute. The reverse steps were taken. The forearm was gripped again and then the wrist was pulled back. Less pain the second time is a positive test meaning a brace would help. All patients had the EGT done before treatment.

The patients were divided into three treatment groups. Group one got a brace. They wore it all day but kept it off at night. Group two had physical therapy. Therapy included ultrasound, friction massage, strengthening, and stretching for six weeks. Everyone got a total of nine physical therapy sessions. Group three got both the brace and physical therapy.

Results were measured using three tools. First each patient assessed how he or she was doing on a six-point scale. The scale went from fully recovered (1) to much worse (6). Second, severity of pain was reported. And third, patient satisfaction was measured.

Patients with a positive test were compared to patients with a negative result. There was no difference between the physical therapy and the combination group. The test had the highest predictive value with the brace-only group.

The authors conclude the EGT can direct treatment for tennis elbow. Anyone with a positive EGT can start off with a brace to support the arm and limit pain. Anyone with a negative EGT should receive physical therapy.

References: Peter A. A. Struijs, MD, PhD, et al. The Predictive Value of the Extensor Grip Test for the Effectiveness of Bracing for Tennis Elbow. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. December 2005. Vol. 33. No. 12. Pp. 1905-1909.