Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Steroid Shots for Tennis Elbow Less Beneficial in Long Term, Even with Physical Therapy

A new study found that while steroid injections provide athletes with tennis elbow temporary relief, such treatment doesn’t offer long term benefits even when combined with exercise.

Researchers at the University of Queensland in St. Lucia, Australia randomly assigned 165 patients with tennis elbow to one of four treatments: a steroid injection; a placebo injection; a steroid injection and physical therapy; or a placebo injection and physical therapy. Nearly 85 percent of those who got steroid shots had a complete recovery, compared with the 96 percent of those who had a placebo injection. Moreover, 54 percent of the patients who received steroid injections had a recurrence of tennis elbow, compared with only 12 percent of those given the placebo.

Surprisingly, no significant difference in recovery or recurrence were observed between those who had physical therapy and those who didn’t, according to a HealthDay report.

“Our findings did not support the commonly held view that any recurrence or delayed healing effect following corticosteroid injection can be remedied by moderating loads and a program of physiotherapy,” said senior study author Bill Vicenzino, chairman of sports physiotherapy at the University of Queensland.

Tennis elbow is a painful condition related to overuse of the tendon in the elbow. Although most common among tennis players, individuals engaging in any activity that involves repetitive twisting of the wrist — including construction workers, plumbers, and butchers — are also at risk.

But even though the study found physical therapy combined with a  steroid shot was not particularly helpful, the researchers do not recommend that physical therapy be discontinued. After all, it can still provide short-term relief, and is associated with the lowest recurrence rates and significant improvement or recovery after a year

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