Prolotherapy injections and physiotherapy used singly and in combination for lateral epicondylalgia: a single-blinded randomised clinical trial
Michael Yelland, David Rabago, Michael Ryan, Shu-Kay Ng, Dinusha Vithanachchi, Nagarajan Manickaraj & Leanne Bisset
Background: Lateral epicondylalgia (tennis elbow) is a common, debilitating and often treatment-resistant condition. Two treatments thought to address the pathology of lateral epicondylalgia are hypertonic glucose plus lignocaine injections (prolotherapy) and a physiotherapist guided manual therapy/exercise program (physiotherapy). This trial aimed to compare the short- and long-term clinical effectiveness, cost effectiveness, and safety of prolotherapy used singly and in combination with physiotherapy.
Methods: Using a single-blinded randomised clinical trial design, 120 participants with lateral epicondylalgia of at least 6 weeks’ duration were randomly assigned to prolotherapy (4 sessions, monthly intervals), physiotherapy (weekly for 4 sessions) or combined (prolotherapy+physiotherapy). The Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation (PRTEE) and participant global impression of change scores were assessed by blinded evaluators at baseline, 6, 12, 26 and 52 weeks. Success rate was defined as the percentage of participants indicating elbow condition was either ‘much improved’ or ‘completely recovered.’ Analysis was by intention-to-treat.
Results: Eighty-eight percent completed the 12-month assessment. At 52 weeks, there were substantial, significant improvements compared with baseline status for all outcomes and groups, but no significant differences between groups. The physiotherapy group exhibited greater reductions in PRTEE at 12 weeks than the prolotherapy group (p = 0.014).
Conclusion: There were no significant differences amongst the Physiotherapy, Prolotherapy and Combined groups in PRTEE and global impression of change measures over the course of the 12-month trial.