Background: Essential fatty acids influence the production of prostaglandins, which is suggested to be of importance for the development of chronic degenerative changes in tendons. Clinical studies indicate that treatment with essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals may be effective against tendon diseases. This randomised trial was performed to evaluate the effect of an essential fatty acid supplement on pain in lateral epicondylitis.
Material and methods: 55 patients with unilateral epicondylitis were treated with eccentric training of the wrist extensor muscles for 6 months. 50% of the patients were randomised to 8 weeks of peroral supplement with essential fatty acids, 50% to placebo supplement.
Results: Reported pain declined throughout the study period, with a mean pain level reported on a 10 cm visual analogue scale of 4.9 cm (95% CI 4.3-5.1 cm) at inclusion and 0.95 cm (95% CI 0.5-1.1 cm) at 6 months. Maximal grip force of afflicted arm increased about 23%. No differences in pain reduction or force increase were found between the supplement and the placebo groups.
Conclusion: Reported pain was reduced and force increased gradually over 6 months with eccentric training. No additional effect was observed with a fatty acid supplement.