Background: Previous studies have suggested that weakening of shoulder and scapula muscles have been associated with increased pain, and decreased functional abilities in patients with lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET).
Purpose: To compare the effects of shoulder and scapula muscle training plus conventional physiotherapy with conventional physiotherapy only.
Methods: A group of 48 patients with LET was randomly allocated into two groups: shoulder and scapula muscle training plus conventional physiotherapy (n = 24), and conventional physiotherapy (n = 24). All patients received 12 sessions of treatment for 4 weeks. Furthermore, both groups were instructed to continue their own exercise program at home until four months after the end of treatment. Pain intensity, grip strength, and functional status were measured preintervention, postintervention, and 4 months after the end of intervention (4-month follow-up).
Results: The shoulder and scapula muscle training plus conventional physiotherapy group showed significantly more reduction in pain and greater improvement in functional status compared with conventional physiotherapy group, but there was no significant difference in pain-free grip strength for two groups.
Conclusion: Conventional physiotherapy combined with shoulder and scapula muscle training could be more effective in improving the pain and functional abilities of patients with LET compared with conventional physiotherapy only.
Keywords: Lateral elbow tendinopathy; exercise; physiotherapy; scapula; shoulder.