Effectiveness of high-intensity laser therapy and splinting in lateral epicondylitis

Lateral epicondylitis (LE) is a frequently diagnosed condition that causes pain on the outside of the elbow, as well as pain and weakness during gripping. In this prospective, randomized, controlled, assessor-blinded trial, the goal was to investigate the effects of high-intensity laser therapy (HILT) in patients with LE and to compare these results with those of a brace and placebo HILT. Patients were placed at random into one of three treatment groups. The first group was treated with HILT. The second group (sham therapy group) received placebo HILT, while the third group (brace group) used the lateral counterforce brace for LE. The patients were assessed for grip strength, pain, disability, and quality of life. Outcome measurements and ultrasonographic examination of the patients were performed before treatment (week 0) and after treatment (after 4 and 12 weeks). HILT and brace groups showed significant improvements for most evaluation parameters (pain scores, grip strength, disability scores, and several subparts of the short-form 36 health survey (physical function, role limitations due to physical functioning, bodily pain, general health, and vitality)) after treatment (after 4 and 12 weeks). However, the improvements in evaluation parameters of the patients with LE in HILT and brace groups were not reflected to ultrasonographic findings. In addition, comparison of the percentage changes of the parameters after treatment relative to pretreatment values did not exhibit a significant difference between HILT and brace groups.

The study concluded that HILT and splinting are effective physical therapy modalities for patients with LE in decreasing pain and improving disability, quality of life, and grip strength.