Question:Is there any benefit to using an elbow brace for tennis elbow? I'm already seeing a physical therapist for ultrasound, friction massage, and exercises. Is more treatment better?
Researchers haven't been able to find the perfect treatment for tennis elbow. Studies show it is a long-term problem for many people. The latest research shows it isn't an inflammatory process as was once believed.
We now know that damage to the tendon fibers results in scarring and fibrous healing. The healing tendon fibers don't line up so movement keeps causing tiny tears where the tendon joins the bone.
Some people do better with a brace while others respond well to physical therapy (PT). A recent study from the Netherlands compared both treatments. There wasn't an advantage to combining bracing with PT. They found that using a simple test called the Extensor Grip Test (EGT) helps predict who can benefit from the use of a brace.
Talk to your doctor or therapist about this test. Although a brace is a relatively inexpensive treatment tool, a negative EGT would save you the extra cost.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.
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