STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive, cross-sectional. OBJECTIVES: To compare static strength characteristics of the upper extremity musculature in female recreational tennis players with lateral epicondylalgia to those of nonsymptomatic tennis players and a control group of women who did not play tennis. BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of research describing the relationship between lateral epicondylalgia and strength characteristics of the upper extremity musculature, despite the functional relationship between the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. METHODS: Sixty-three women were recruited into 3 groups (n = 21 per group): symptomatic tennis players (STP) with lateral epicondylalgia, nonsymptomatic tennis players, and controls. Data collection was performed during a single session, during which the strength of selected muscle groups of the dominant upper extremity was measured using a combination of force transducers. Strength ratios of selected muscle groups were then calculated. RESULTS: The STP group reported median pain level of 3/10 on a numeric pain rating scale and a symptom duration of 16 weeks. The STP group had weaker lower trapezius strength (mean difference, -9.0 N; 95% confidence interval [CI]: -13.5, -4.4) and wrist extensor strength (-12.7 N; 95% CI: -24.4, -1.1), and a higher shoulder internal/external rotation strength ratio (0.19; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.35) and upper/lower trapezius strength ratio (1.32; 95% CI: 0.41, 2.23), compared to those of the nonsymptomatic group. Compared to the control group, the STP group demonstrated a significantly higher shoulder internal/external rotation strength ratio (0.21; 95% CI: 0.04, 0.38) and wrist flexion/extension strength ratio (0.14; 95% CI: 0.01, 0.27). CONCLUSION: In this group of recreational female tennis players, significant differences in strength and strength ratio characteristics were identified. Although the design of the study precludes establishing a cause-and-effect relationship, the results suggest further study and treatment of the muscle groups of interest.
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