Display Settings:

Format

Send to:

Choose Destination
Clin J Pain. 2011 Jun;27(5):442-7. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e318208c95b.

Effectiveness of leech therapy in chronic lateral epicondylitis: a randomized controlled trial.

Author information

  • 1Department of Internal and Integrative Medicine, Kliniken-Essen-Mitte, Essen, Germany.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Leech therapy has been found to be effective in osteoarthritis of the knee and hand in previous trials. Chronic epicondylitis is a prevalent pain syndrome with limited treatment options. In this study, we tested whether leech therapy would be beneficial in the symptomatic treatment of chronic lateral epicondylitis.

METHODS:

Forty patients with manifestation of epicondylitis of at least 1-month duration were randomized to a single treatment with 2 to 4 locally applied leeches or a 30-day course with topical diclofenac. The primary outcome was change of pain sum score on day 7 calculated from 3 visual analog scales for pain during motion, grip, and rest. Secondary outcomes included disability (Disability of the Arm, Shoulder, Hand questionnaire), physical quality of life (Short Form-36), and grip strength. Outcomes and safety were assessed on days -3, 0, 7, and 45.

RESULTS:

Leeches induced a significantly stronger decrease of the pain score (143.7±36.9 to 95.3±45.1) compared with topical diclofenac (131.6±29.6 to 134.7±70.7; mean difference -49.0; 95% confidence interval,-82.9--15.1; P=0.0075) after 7 days. On day 45, this group difference was reduced (-27.5; confidence interval, -60.8-5.8; P=0.110) due to delayed pain relief with diclofenac. Functional disability showed a stronger decrease in the leech group, which was most prominent after 45 days (P=0.0007). Quality of life increased nonsignificantly in the leech group. Results were not affected by outcome expectation.

DISCUSSION:

A single course of leech therapy was effective in relieving pain in the short-term and improved disability in intermediate-term. Leeches might be considered as an additional option in the therapeutic approach to lateral epicondylitis.

PMID:
21368667
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk