Background: Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow) is a frequently reported condition. A wide variety of treatment strategies has been described. As of yet, no optimal strategy has been identified.
Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of orthotic devices for the treatment of tennis elbow.
Search strategy: We searched Medline, Embase, CINAHL, the Cochrane Controlled Trial Register, Current Contents up to May 1999 and reference lists from all retrieved articles. Experts on the subjects were approached for additional trials.
Selection criteria: All randomised clinical trials (RCT) describing individuals with diagnosed lateral epicondylitis and comparing the use of an orthotic device as a treatment strategy were evaluated for inclusion.
Data collection and analysis: Two reviewers independently assessed the validity of the included trials and extracted data on relevant outcome measures. Dichotomous outcomes were expressed as Relative Risks (RRs) and continuous outcomes as Standardised Mean Differences (SMD), both with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). Statistical pooling and subgroup analyses were intended
Main results: Five RCTs (N per group 7-49) were included. Validity score ranged from 3-9 positive items out of 11. Subgroup analyses were not performed due to the small number of trials. The limited number of included trials present few outcome measures and limited long-term results. Pooling was not possible due to large heterogeneity amongst trials.
Reviewer's conclusions: No definitive conclusions can be drawn concerning effectiveness of orthotic devices for lateral epicondylitis. More well-designed and well-conducted RCTs of sufficient power are warranted.