A clinical trial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association aimed to determine the efficacy of several of the treatment options available for tennis elbow. According to the news report, almost 1% to 3% of Americans develop tennis elbow, an overuse injury that causes chronic pain. However, the treatments given to those who suffer with the injury appear to be ineffective in the long-term.
In the study, Australian researchers recruited 165 individuals with the condition and, at random, assigned them to four groups. The four groups either received a cortisone shot alone, a placebo shot alone, a cortisone shot with 8 weeks of physical therapy, or a placebo shot with 8 weeks of physical therapy.
One year later, the research team determined that none of the treatments worked better than a placebo for long-term relief. In addition, the researchers found that those who had the cortisone injection, whether alone or with physical therapy, were significantly less likely to have made a full recovery than those who had a placebo or physical therapy without the cortisone shot.
The study also found that the cortisone shot was much better than the placebo at relieving pain and immobility as well as improving the patient's quality of life within the first 4 weeks of treatment. For short-term pain relief, physical therapy did provide smaller benefits than the cortisone shot, but the report states that it did not hinder recovery as the cortisone shot did.
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association