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Arthroscopic Tendon Release Slightly More Effective Than Open Method For Tennis Elbow

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Both the traditional open tendon release and the newer arthroscopic method provide similarly effective treatment of lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, according to a study out of Norway.

The two approaches deliver similar outcomes without major complications. However, the newer arthroscopic procedure provides “a small, but not insignificant” improvement in the outcome as assessed by the shortened version of Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand Score (QuickDASH), Eirik Solheim and colleagues stated in the study abstract.

The researchers compared 80 patients who were subject to open tendon release to 225 patients who underwent an arthroscopic release of the extensor carpi radialis brevis, the muscle in the forearm that extends and abducts the wrist.

There were no significant differences in the two groups for gender, age, duration of symptoms or which side was affected and no significant difference was reported between treatment groups for the baseline QuickDASH scores.

At follow-up, QuickDASH scores were better in the arthroscopy group relative to the open release group. The percentage of elbows with an excellent outcome at follow-up (QuickDASH score <20 points) was significantly higher in the arthroscopic group (78%) than in the open release group (67%).

Tennis elbow is an inflammation of a tendon on the outside of the elbow. The exact cause of this condition, which is associated with soreness and pain in the elbow area, is not known. It often occurs from overusing the muscles and tendons of the forearm, near the elbow joint, which sometimes happens from playing tennis, hence its name.