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Botulinum Toxin May Relieve Tennis Elbow

But injections could cause temporary digit paresis and finger weakness

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Botulinum toxin injections could relieve the pain of lateral epicondylitis or "tennis elbow," according to a study published in the Dec. 6 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Shiu Man Wong, M.B., BCh, of North District Hospital in Hong Kong, China, and colleagues studied 60 patients with lateral epicondylitis in outpatient clinics at a university hospital and a district hospital in Hong Kong from September 2002 through December 2004.

The patients received injections of 60 units of botulinum toxin type A or a normal saline placebo. Change in pain was measured by a 100-mm visual analogue scale (VAS), ranging from 0 (no pain) to 10 (worst pain ever).

The VAS scores for the botulinum group at baseline, four weeks and 12 weeks were 65.5 mm, 25.3 mm and 23.5 mm, respectively. Scores for the placebo group were 66.2 mm, 50.5 mm and 43.5 mm. Four patients in the botulinum group experienced mild finger paresis at four weeks.

"Botulinum toxin injection may improve pain over a three-month period in some patients with lateral epicondylitis," the authors write, "but injections may be associated with digit paresis and weakness of finger extension."

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