Strength–Duration Curves of Radial Nerve in Patients With Lateral Elbow Pain

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Lateral epicondylalgia (LE) refers to a painful condition at or around the lateral epicondyle of the humerus. LE is one of the most common injuries of the elbow; however, the cause of the pathology is not clear. Patients often experience symptoms consistent with a radial nerve injury; however, data on the involvement of the radial nerve are needed. Objective: To analyze the relationship between electrophysiologic excitability and morphology of the radial nerve in patients with unilateral chronic LE. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Department of Physiotherapy, University of Seville. Patients: A total of 56 elbows (28 right, 28 left) in 28 patients (12 females, 16 males; age 49 [7.37] y) were recruited by convenience sampling. Main Outcome Measures: Strength–duration curves (chronaxia and accommodation index) and cross-sectional area (CSA) of the radial nerve were made in all participants. All parameters were compared between both limbs. Also, pain with palpation in the lateral epicondyle and functional pain of involved extremities was assessed using visual analog scale and the Patient-Rated Tennis Elbow Evaluation, respectively. Results: Symptomatic limb showed higher CSA values of the radial nerve when compared with the asymptomatic limb (P < .001). On the symptomatic limb, duration of symptoms was positively correlated with CSA values. Chronaxia values were all normal and similar between both limbs (P = .35). Regarding accommodation index, 14 (54%) patients showed accommodation indices that suggested pathological radial nerve on the right limb, 4 (14%) on the left limb, 5 (18%) on both limbs, and 4 (14%) had none of the affected nerves. Eight-six percent of patients showed accommodation indices that suggested pathological radial nerve, independently of symptomatic limb. In these cases, affected nerves had higher CSA than the unaffected nerve (P = .01). On the affected nerves, duration of symptoms was positively correlated with accommodation indices. Conclusions: These findings suggest that patients with unilateral chronic LE show a decreased excitability in any radial nerve, independently of the symptomatic limb, and that pathological nerves have higher CSA than the nonpathological nerves.

The author is with the Department of Physiotherapy, University of Seville, Seville, Spain.

de la Cruz Torres (bcruz@us.es) is corresponding author.
Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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