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Is electrotherapy useful for tennis elbow?

Report by: Helen Ruane, Laura Hay and Michael Callaghan, Specialist Physiotherapist; Specialist Physiotherapist; and Clinical Specialist and Research Associate

Institution: Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester, UK

A short-cut review was carried out to establish whether electrotherapy is better than conservative therapies at improving pain and function in adults with chronic tennis elbow. Seven studies were directly relevant to the question. The author, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes, results and study weaknesses of these studies are shown in table 2. The clinical bottom line is that there is some weak evidence for the benefits of laser over placebo. There is inconclusive evidence for shock wave therapy. There is weak evidence for the effects of ultrasound and electrical stimulation (4 Hz) over placebo.

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Table 2

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Three-part question

In [adults with chronic tennis elbow] is [electrotherapy …

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