Immediate Effects of 2 Types of Braces on Pain and Grip Strength in People With Lateral Epicondylalgia: A Randomized Controlled Trial
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Study Design Repeated-measures, crossover, double-blinded randomized controlled trial. Objectives To compare the immediate effectiveness of 2 types of counterforce braces in improving pain-free grip strength, pressure pain threshold, and wrist angle during a gripping task in individuals with lateral epicondylalgia. Background Sports medicine management of lateral epicondylalgia often includes application of a counterforce brace, but the comparative effectiveness of different braces is unclear. The most common brace design consists of a single strap wrapped around the proximal forearm. A variation of this brace is the use of an additional strap that wraps above the elbow, which aims to provide further unloading to the injured tissue. Methods Pain-free grip strength, pressure pain threshold, and wrist angle during a gripping task were measured on 34 participants with a clinical diagnosis of lateral epicondylalgia (mean ᠓D age, 47.8 ᠸ.5 years). Measurements were made without a brace, as well as immediately before and after the application of 2 types of counterforce braces. Each condition was tested during a separate session, with a minimum of 48 hours between sessions. Analysis-of-variance models were used to test the differences within and between conditions. Results Pain-free grip strength (17.2 N; 95% confidence interval: 7.5, 26.8) and pressure pain threshold (42.2 kPa; 95% confidence interval: 16.5, 68.0) significantly improved on the affected side immediately following the intervention conditions as well as the control condition. There was no significant difference between braces or the control condition for any outcome. Conclusion Both types of counterforce braces had an immediate positive effect in participants with lateral epicondylalgia, without differences between interventions and similar to a no-brace control condition. Therefore, while the use of a brace may be helpful in managing immediate symptoms related to lateral epicondylalgia, the choice of which brace to use may be more a function of patient preference, comfort, and cost. Further research is required to investigate the comparative longer-term and clinical effects of the 2 braces.
Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
© 2014 Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. Reproduced with permission of the Orthopaedic Section and the Sports Physical Therapy Section of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
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