Eccentric exercise for lateral epicondylitis
With an annual incidence of up to 3%, lateral epicondylitis is a relatively common musculoskeletal condition experienced by a wide range of people. Current management focuses on pain reduction through resistance exercises and grip strengthening. Whilst eccentric exercise is the backbone of treatment for other tendinopathies, its effectiveness remains elusive for lateral epicondylitis. The following systematic review evaluated the effectiveness of this modality.
Eight randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were included, with quality ranges from 11 to 20 of 26 using a modified Cochrane Musculoskeletal Injuries Group score. One low quality study found a significant reduction in pain following eccentric exercise, however, this was not maintained at 4 weeks. Two RCTs showed improved grip strength along with a greater reduction in pain; whilst another three studies showed improved function.
However, such findings need to be interpreted with caution due to small sample sizes and inconsistent findings amongst studies. Nevertheless, most trials suggest eccentric exercise may be effective for reducing pain and improving function.
> From: Heijnders et al., Br J Sports Med (2015) (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to BMJ Publishing Group Ltd. Click here for the Pubmed summary.