In a controlled study, a group of 16 patients in a north of England general practice received acupuncture treatment for tennis elbow, followed by a small dose of corticosteroid with lignocaine to a residual tender spot at the elbow. These patients were compared with a similar group of 19 who received a larger dose to a tender spot at the lateral epicondyle, without any initial acupuncture treatment.
In the acupuncture with steroid group: 13 patients had benefited following two treatment sessions, two after three sessions and one was no better at the end of the permitted three treatments. In the steroid alone group: 13 had had benefit after two sessions, three after three and three were unsuccessful. This suggests a trend towards increased and more rapid success in the acupuncture with steroid group, but the small number of patients precluded useful statistical analysis. The physical advantage in using acupuncture before administering local corticosteroid injection is that a lower dose of steroid can be used, with consequent reduction in the risk of tissue necrosis and inflammatory reaction.
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