Treating Lateral Epicondylopathy With Dry Needling and Exercise: A Case Series

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Journal of Sport Rehabilitation


Context: Lateral epicondylopathy (LE) is a common overuse injury affecting elbow, wrist, and hand function. It is characterized by weakness and pain in the muscles and tendons of the forearm responsible for the extension of your wrist and fingers. Trigger point dry needling is a technique reported to be beneficial in managing pain and dysfunction after LE diagnosis. LE is also commonly treated with conservative treatment, such as joint and soft tissue mobilization, self-care home programs, and anti-inflammatory use. We explored a different dry needling approach consisting of in situ dry needling with electric stimulation combined with targeted therapeutic exercise to treat LE in 3 cases. Case Presentation: Three patients were referred for dry needling once a week for 6 weeks and home-based exercise therapy for LE. They were clinically evaluated using grip strength, a visual analog scale to assess pain, and Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation Test scores. These were measured at 4 time points (weeks 0, 2, 4, and 6). Management and Outcomes: The dry needling intervention incorporated 8 locations in the upper-extremity with 2 electric stimulation channels. The patients had reduced pain as measured by a visual analog scale, increased function as measured by the Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation Test, and increased grip strength over 6 weeks. Conclusions: This case series illustrates the use of dry needling and a home exercise program to provide a favorable outcome in a patient with LE. Patients had an 80% to 100% reduction in pain and similar improvements in function that were significantly beyond the minimum clinically important difference. This dry needling approach is a safe and effective treatment of LE in the short term.

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