Objective: To determine the effect of bracing on measures of pain-free grip strength and pain scores in individuals with unilateral lateral epicondylitis through a comparison of two elbow braces, a placebo brace, and a no-brace situation.
Design: Repeated-measures design in which the subjects acted as their own controls.
Setting: A clinical research laboratory at a hand and upper limb clinic.
Patients: Fifty individuals diagnosed by a physician with unilateral lateral epicondylitis, having symptoms for at least 3 weeks, were recruited from the community.
Interventions: The braces studied were the Count'R-Force Tennis Elbow Brace, the Body Glove Airprene Elbow Support, and a placebo brace that consisted of a modified DePuy Levy Clinic Patella Strap.
Main outcome measures: Pain-free grip strength measured using an NK Biotechnical Corporation Hand Assessment System DIGIT-grip Device and pain scores measured on a visual numeric rating scale.
Results: No significant differences in pain-free grip strength or pain were observed between any of the test situations (p > .05). Pain during the test, however, was greater than pain before or after the test (p < .05).
Conclusions: When tests were completed on one occasion with the brace on, no advantages of elbow bracing were detected. Whether bracing is effective when used as a treatment technique for an extended period of time should be addressed in future research.