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Treatment of chronic lateral epicondylosis: a randomized trial comparing the efficacy of ultrasound-guided tendon dry needling and open-release surgery

Eur Radiol. 2022 Apr 28. doi: 10.1007/s00330-022-08794-4. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: Evaluate the efficacy of ultrasound-guided dry needling and open-release surgery in reducing pain and improving function in workers with lateral epicondylosis refractory to at least 6 months of nonsurgical management.

METHODS: We randomly assigned participants in a 1:1 ratio to receive dry needling or surgery. The primary outcome was the Patient Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation (PRTEE) score at 6 months. Secondary outcome measures examined the impact of these techniques on professional activity, grip strength, and Global Rating of Change and Satisfaction scales. Statistical analyses included mixed-effects models and Fisher’s exact tests.

RESULTS: From October 2016 through June 2019, we enrolled 64 participants. Two participants were excluded, and data from 62 participants (48 ± 8 years, 33 men) with a mean duration of symptoms of 23 ± 21 months were analyzed. Baseline characteristics were similar in both groups. In the intention-to-treat analysis, no treatment-by-time interaction was observed (F(4,201) = 0.72; p = .58). The least-squares mean difference from baseline in PRTEE scores at 6 months was 33.4 (CI 25.2 – 41.5) in the surgery group and 26.9 (CI 19.4 – 34.4) in the dry needling group (p = .25). The proportion of successful treatment was 83% (CI 63 – 95%) and 81% (CI 63 – 93%) in the surgery and dry needling groups, respectively (p = 1.00). Changes in secondary outcomes were in the same direction as those of the primary outcome. No adverse event occurred.

CONCLUSIONS: Ultrasound-guided dry needling resulted in comparable improvement in outcome scores on scales of pain, physical function, and global assessment of change and satisfaction than open-release surgery.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: Identifier: NCT02710682 KEY POINTS: • In patients with chronic lateral epicondylosis, ultrasound-guided tendon dry needling provides comparable therapeutic efficacy to open-release surgery. • Ultrasound-guided tendon dry needling allows for an earlier return to work and may be less costly than open-release surgery. • Care management guidelines should recommend treatment by ultrasound-guided tendon dry needling before open-release surgery.

PMID:35482125 | DOI:10.1007/s00330-022-08794-4


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