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Medicina dello Sport 2008 June;61(2):207-22


language: English, Italian

Lateral elbow epicondylitis (tennis elbow): comparison between high intensity LASER Therapy and TENS in a clinical study

Zati A. 1, Colori B. C. 1, Fortuna D. 2, Gelsomini L. 1, Bilotta T. W. 1

1 Servizio Recupero e Rieducazione Funzionale Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli Bologna, Italy 2 Laboratorio Fotobiologia Applicazioni Mediche ELEN –CNR Firenze, Italy


Aim. The aim of this paper is to analyze a homogeneous group of adults suffering from lateral epicondylitis of the elbow (or tennis elbow) and compare the results of two local physiotherapies; classic Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) and Nd:YAG High Intensity Laser Therapy (HILT); the latter has recently been employed in Physical Therapy.
Methods. We selected 42 patients who had been suffering from the disease for no less that one month and no more that three months. The patients were questioned about their sports and work activity; sonographic evaluation was performed to check local calcification and seven clinical tests were performed to quantify pain and functional lesions in five follow-ups, the first before treatment and the last six months after.
Results. The results showed that there was no unequivocal etiology: the disease was present in all patient categories, not only athletes, hard workers and workers who used repetitive forearm rotation but in sedentary patients and in retired people too. These data seem to support the degenerative nature of the disease and several mechanical causal factors might contribute.
Conclusion. With regards to the efficacy of the two therapies employed, TENS and LASER both led to a significant pain reduction in the 14 days after treatment, but in the other follow-ups laser HILT induced a higher and more lasting analgesic effect than TENS and above all, an improvement in function recovery. Finally, side effects related to the two physiotherapies were sparse and lasted for only a short time.

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