Purpose: Lateral epicondylitis (LE), a common disease, especially in middle age, causes decreased productivity and economic losses. The first-line treatment for LE is conservative and consists of topical and oral anti-inflammatory drugs, ice application, and brace use. If the first-line treatment fails, second-line treatment modalities, which are generally invasive, are offered. Second-line therapeutic regimens include saline, corticosteroid, or platelet-rich plasma injections. Dry needling is relatively new. We hypothesized that dry needling would be at least as effective as first-line treatment for LE. We compared the outcomes of first-line treatment and dry needling.
Methods: The study allocated 110 patients into groups using online randomization software. After completing the Patient-rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation (PRTEE), patients in group I received dry needling, whereas those in group II received first-line treatment, consisting of ibuprofen 100 mg twice a day and a proximal forearm brace. The patients were evaluated after three weeks and six months.
Results: The study ultimately analyzed 92 patients. Although both treatment methods were effective at three weeks, dry needling was significantly more effective than the first-line treatment at six months.
Conclusion: Because of the low complication rate, dry needling is a safe method, and it might be an effective treatment option for LE.
Keywords: Dry needling; Lateral epicondylitis; Needling therapy; Tennis elbow.