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Hypertonic Dextrose and Morrhuate Sodium Injections (Prolotherapy) for Lateral Epicondylosis (Tennis Elbow): Results of a Single-blind, Pilot-Level, Randomized Controlled Trial *

Objective: Chronic lateral epicondylosis is common, debilitating, and often refractory. Prolotherapy (PrT) is an injection therapy for tendinopathy. The efficacy of two PrT solutions for chronic lateral epicondylosis was evaluated.

Design: This study is a three-arm randomized controlled trial. Twenty-six adults (32 elbows) with chronic lateral epicondylosis for 3 mos or longer were randomized to ultrasound-guided PrT with dextrose solution, ultrasound-guided PrT with dextrose-morrhuate sodium solution, or watchful waiting (“wait and see”). The primary outcome was the Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation (100 points) at 4, 8, and 16 wks (all groups) and at 32 wks (PrT groups). The secondary outcomes included pain-free grip strength and magnetic resonance imaging severity score.

Results: The participants receiving PrT with dextrose and PrT with dextrose-morrhuate reported improved Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation composite and subscale scores at 4, 8, and/or 16 wks compared with those in the wait-and-see group (P < 0.05). At 16 wks, compared with baseline, the PrT with dextrose and PrT with dextrose-morrhuate groups reported improved composite Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation scores by a mean (SE) of 18.7 (9.6; 41.1%) and 17.5 (11.6; 53.5%) points, respectively. The grip strength of the participants receiving PrT with dextrose exceeded that of the PrT with dextrose-morrhuate and the wait and see at 8 and 16 wks (P < 0.05). There were no differences in magnetic resonance imaging scores. Satisfaction was high; there were no adverse events.

Conclusions: PrT resulted in safe, significant improvement of elbow pain and function compared with baseline status and follow-up data and the wait-and-see control group. This pilot study suggests the need for a definitive trial.

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

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Published on 03-01-2013