Unsupervised Isometric Exercise Versus Wait-and-See for Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy

Review written by Todd Hargrove info

Key Points

  1. Eight weeks of progressive unsupervised isometric exercise for lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET) improved pain and disability, but not global improvement or pain-free grip strength.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET) is characterized by lateral elbow pain during performance of gripping tasks. Research has found that resistance exercise is an effective treatment, with most studies focused on isotonic (alternating concentric and eccentric) exercise (1, 2).

Recently, isometric exercise has been recommended as a treatment for tendinopathy, based on promising results in the treatment of patellar tendinopathy (3, 4, 5). However, previous studies on the use of isometric exercise for LET have been negative or inconclusive (6, 7).

This study sought to investigate the effect of unsupervised isometric exercise compared to a wait-and-see approach on pain, disability, global improvement, and pain-free grip strength in individuals with LET.

Lateral elbow tendinopathy is characterized by lateral elbow pain during performance of gripping tasks.
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Different results may have been obtained if the isometric exercise was combined with other therapies, or if the program was supervised by a physiotherapist.

METHODS

40 people with unilateral LET lasting at least six weeks were randomized into two groups: wait-and-see, or exercise. The exercise group had a single 20-minute session of instruction by a physiotherapist, and then followed an 8-week program of unsupervised progressive

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