Management of Chronic Lateral Epicondylitis With Manual Therapy and Local Cryostimulation: A Pilot Study

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Abstract

Objective:

The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of adding cryostimulation to manual therapy in patients with chronic lateral epicondylitis.

Methods:

The control group (n = 19) was treated with manual therapy consisting of soft-tissue therapy and radial head mobilizations. The experimental group (n = 18) received cryostimulation in addition to manual therapy care similar to that for the control group. Both protocols consisted of 8 treatments over a 4-week period. Outcome measures included pain intensity (visual analog scale), pain-free grip strength (handheld dynamometer), and functional index (Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation questionnaire). Assessments were performed at baseline, postintervention, and 3-month follow-up. Adherence and dropout rates were also considered.

Results:

Both groups exhibited significant improvements in pain intensity and functional index at postintervention assessments, which were maintained at follow-up. All participants attended the prescribed number of treatments, but 27% were lost at follow-up. Minor adverse events were reported after cryostimulation in 4 cases.

Conclusions:

This study indicated that it is feasible to complete a clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of adding cryostimulation to manual therapy in patients with chronic lateral epicondylitis. On the basis of these preliminary data, the combination of cryostimulation and manual therapy care did not provide any additional benefits in both the short term and the long term. Manual myofascial point treatment and mobilization techniques yielded positive outcomes in chronic lateral epicondylitis. Further studies should focus on the sole therapeutic effect of cryostimulation in both patients with acute and those with chronic conditions.

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