Study Questions Support Bands for Tennis Elbow
WebMD News Archive
For tennis players and others suffering from tennis elbow, the real question
is: what does it all mean? Do forearm supports work? Gail Freidhoff, a physical
therapist and sports medicine specialist at University of Kentucky Sports
Medicine in Lexington, says yes -- at least in her experience.
"The one thing I have found with the [forearm support band] ... is that
patients can do the activity that causes them pain," she tells WebMD.
"I have not had patients complain of the arm fatiguing or complain of not
being able to do their activity, or a loss of strength."
In fact, Freidhoff says in her 17 years as a physical therapist she
remembers only one patient with tennis elbow from actually playing tennis who
had so little success with a brace that surgery was needed to correct the
"They certainly don't cure this condition; they're not panaceas"
says Bob Stanton, MD, a sports medicine specialist in Ridgefield, Conn.
"But I've had enough patients over 20-something years to think they have
some benefit." The main benefit, Stanton tells WebMD, is pain relief -- not
relief of fatigue.
"We're definitely not saying they're not effective. We've seen them work
clinically," one of the study authors, Lt. Shane L. Koppenhaver, MPT, of
the DeWitt Army Community Hospital in Ft. Belvoir, Va., tells WebMD. "It
basically means [the study] doesn't support the theory that forearm supports
work by decreasing muscle fatigue."
That said, Koppenhaver cautions that the study didn't look at the specific
effect the braces might have while playing tennis -- but rather how they
performed during an exercise regimen more like weight-lifting. He acknowledges
it's possible that under normal tennis playing conditions the muscles might
have more time to recover between strokes -- and that would mean less
- Forearm support bands are worn by tennis players to prevent muscle fatigue
because muscle fatigue is believed to contribute to tennis elbow.
- A new study shows that the forearm support bands actually increase
muscle fatigue after an exercise session.
- Two experts comment that the supports still offer an important benefit
because they provide pain relief for patients.