Acupuncture for the alleviation of lateral epicondyle pain: a systematic review

K. (V. Trinh, S. D. Phillips, E. Ho and K. Damsma: Rheumatology 2004;43:1085–1090)

Objectives. Lateral epicondyle pain is a common complaint in North America. In the past 10 yr acupuncture has become increasingly recognized as an alternative treatment for pain, including epicondyle pain. This review evaluates the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for lateral epicondylitis using the appropriate analysis.

Methods. Online bibliographic database searches in any language from Medline, PsychINFO, CINAHL, Healthstar, PMID, CAM, EMBASE, Cochrane Database of Systematic Review (3rd quarter 2003), articles listed in reference lists of key articles and the author’s personal files were performed. Randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials examining the effects of acupuncture on lateral epicondyle pain were selected. From the six studies that met inclusion criteria, the first author, year of publication, population studied, dropout rate, treatment plan, assessment scale and outcome measures were extracted. Study quality was determined by using the Jadad scale, in which all studies were rated as high quality. A best evidence synthesis approach was used to analyse the data presented in the six studies.

Results. All the studies suggested that acupuncture was effective in the short- term relief of lateral epicondyle pain. Five of six studies indicated that acupuncture treatment was more effective compared to a control treatment.

Conclusions. There is strong evidence suggesting that acupuncture is effective in the short-term relief of lateral epicondyle pain.