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Botox-Like Drug May Ease Tennis Elbow

Drug Relieved Pain Better Than Fake Drug in Small Study
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 5, 2005 -- A drug that has the same active ingredient as Botox cuts pain from tennis elbow, according to researchers in Hong Kong.

Tennis players aren't the only people who get tennis elbow. The term refers to overuse of the arm and forearm resulting in irritation of muscles and tendons and elbow pain.

The usual treatment options for tennis elbow include use of anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and localized steroid injections. For severe or unrelenting cases, surgery may be necessary.

The study was small and mainly included women who had had "tennis elbow" pain for several months. More studies are needed to see if the drug helps other patients, write the researchers.

They included Shiu Man Wong, MBBCh, of the medicine department at Hong Kong's North District Hospital.

The study appears in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Pain Study

Wong's study included 60 people. Participants got injections near their elbows. They were asked to avoid motions that trigger symptoms of tennis elbow for two days after getting the shots. They were also told not to get any other treatments for tennis elbow during the study.

Some patients got shots of a Botox-like drug called Dysport. For comparison, others got placebo injections of saline solution (salt water) with no medicine.

Botox itself wasn't tested. Dysport, like Botox, contains botulinum toxin.

Dysport was developed in the U.K. in the early 1990s to treat several neurological and eye-related conditions; it's also used to treat facial wrinkles and other conditions, according to Dysport's web site.

Less Pain Reported

Participants rated their pain three times: at the study's start, four weeks later, and 12 weeks later. Their grips were also tested at the same time.

Those in the Dysport group reported a drop in pain by the study's fourth week. After 12 weeks, they still had less pain than those who had gotten the shots of saline.

Patients hadn't been told which drug they'd gotten. Some may have guessed, the researchers note.

Muscle Weakness

Botulinum toxin can weaken muscles in or near the injection area, states a journal editorial.

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