May 24, 2014
Radiofrequency Lesioning for Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylalgia)
Tasto, et al in the Journal of Arthroscopic-Related Surgery, July 2005, reported on 13 patients in whom a 1-inch incision was used to expose the forearm extensor muscle origin at the elbow. They cauterized the extensor origin with a radiofrequency probe and achieved a uniform reduction in discomfort which they characterize as “very good results”. It is not clear how long it took the patients to reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). They appeared to be very low on side-effects. In this tiny series there were no complications reported and, unfortunately, the major shortcoming really is the size of the incision (3 cm) and the fact that they specifically excluded workers’ compensation patients in people with diabetes, the highest group that would potentially be in need of the procedure to begin with! This does not compete with percutaneous tenotomy discussed elsewhere on my site due to the relatively large incision used for that as opposed to the 3-5 mm incision used for percutaneous tenotomy, also of much larger series. This study just adds one more potential method of eliminating pain of chronic “tennis elbow”.