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Upper limb position affects pain-free grip strength in individuals with lateral elbow tendinopathy
journal contributionposted on 06.09.2021, 21:17 by Nikki Cooke, Steven ObstSteven Obst, Bill Vicenzino, Paul W Hodges, Luke HealesLuke Heales
Background and Purpose: Pain-free grip (PFG) force is commonly used to monitor treatment outcomes in lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET); however, it is unclear whether changes in forearm and elbow position affect PFG force values. This study aims to examine the effect of elbow/shoulder and forearm position on non-normalised and normalised PFG force in individuals with unilateral LET. Methods: A cohort study including 21 subjects with clinically diagnosed unilateral LET (13 females, mean [SD] age 50  years) performed PFG force (symptomatic arm) and maximal grip (asymptomatic arm) tasks using four upper limb positions: (1) shoulder neutral, elbow flexed (90°), forearm pronated; (2) shoulder neutral, elbow flexed (90°), forearm neutral; (3) shoulder flexed (90°), elbow extended, forearm pronated; and (4) shoulder flexed (90°), elbow extended, forearm neutral. PFG force was normalised to the maximal grip of the asymptomatic side. Repeated-measures analyses of variance were used to compare non-normalised and PFG force normalised to maximal grip between positions. Results: Both non-normalised and normalised PFG forces were greater in position 2 than position 1, position 3 and position 4 (elbow-by-forearm interaction non-normalised p = 0.002, normalised p = 0.004). There were no differences between positions 1, 3 and 4 for either non-normalised or normalised PFG strength. Discussion: This study shows that PFG force was higher when performed with forearm neutral supination/pronation, elbow flexion and shoulder neutral than other tested positions, and irrespective of whether PFG force was normalised to the maximal grip force of the contralateral limb. This indicates that arm position should be standardised for comparison.