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.