What is the efficacy of counterforce bracing in the treatment of lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)?

Updated: Oct 30, 2018
  • Author: Bryant James Walrod, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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Answer

A study in 2008 by Altan and Kanat compared treating 50 individuals with symptoms of lateral epicondylitis for less than 12 months with either a typical counterforce forearm brace versus treatment with a 10-15° dorsiflexion wrist splint. [2] Parameters of pain at rest and with extension, sensitivity, hand grip strength, and a subjective response to treatment were measured at baseline, 2 weeks, and 6 weeks. No formal physical therapy or home exercise program was recommended. The counterforce brace group demonstrated significant reduction in pain at rest and during movement at 2 weeks, while sensitivity and grip strength were not changed at 2 weeks.

At 6 weeks, significant improvement was noted in all parameters with the implementation of counterforce bracing. The wrist splint group demonstrated improvement in all parameters measured at 2 and 6 weeks except for sensitivity at 2 weeks. Comparison of the 2 groups showed significant improvement in resting pain at 2 weeks for the wrist splint group over the counterforce brace group. No other significant differences were noted between the 2 groups. This study was limited by lack of a control group. In summary, all patients improved with either counterforce elbow bracing or wrist splint bracing at 2 and 6 weeks. Wrist splint bracing, however, demonstrated an advantage on some measured subjective and objective parameters. [2]


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