TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- A corticosteroid shot is a common treatment for "tennis elbow," but a new study finds it might do more harm than good.
For people with tennis elbow -- a painful condition related to overuse of the tendon in the elbow -- more bad news emerged from the study: Combining physical therapy with a steroid shot was of no benefit over the long-term either.
"Patients having steroid injections should be warned of the potential for recurrence three to 12 months after the injection, even after feeling any benefit in the short term," said senior study author Bill Vicenzino, chairman of sports physiotherapy at the University of Queensland in St. Lucia, Australia.
Recurrences are usually put down to the fact that patients feel better after the injection and then do too much too soon, Vicenzino said.
To avoid this, physical therapy may be recommended post-injection to moderate the return to full activity through strengthening exercises, he explained.
"However, the steroid injection produced higher recurrence rates than did a placebo injection, indicating that the actual steroid medication is likely the reason for the high recurrence rates," not the early return to activity, Vicenzino said.
In the long term, the steroid injection was significantly less beneficial than the placebo injection, even with physical therapy, he said.
Dr. Marc Kowalsky, an orthopedic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, wasn't surprised by the corticosteroid findings. "We have been skeptical for a significant amount of time about the utility of cortisone injections for tennis elbow, because it is really not an inflammatory condition, so it wouldn't make sense that a cortisone injection would work," he said.
But the finding that physical therapy was ineffective did come as a surprise, he said. "Most of us believe there is a role for physic
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