Massage Therapy as a Treatment for Medial Epicondylitis in a Guitarist: A Case Report

Posted:Monday, November 6, 2017

Honorable Mention
Sadie Friesen
MacEwan University – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Background: Medial epicondylitis is an overuse injury characterized by micro-tears in the
musculotendinous unit of the flexor-pronator musculature. Medial epicondylitis presents with
pain, tenderness, stiffness, limited range of motion, loss of strength and reduced function. Pain
syndromes of the musculotendinous unit are noted to be the most common of all upper extremity
disorders in instrumentalists. Massage therapy can be of benefit to these presentations.

Objective: To examine the effects of massage therapy on pain, adhesions and scar tissue,
hypertonicity, pinch and grip strength and performance in a guitarist with medial epicondylitis.

Methods: The study period included an initial and final assessment with treatment scheduled for
five massage therapy sessions carried out by a second-year massage therapy student over a sixweek
period. The subject, a 54-year-old male guitarist, presented with medial epicondylitis on
the left side. Assessment measures included pain scales, pinch and grip strength measures, and
the Disabilities Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH) Questionnaire. The treatment plan was
prepared with the intention of decreasing pain, reducing adhesions and scar tissue, reducing
hypertonicity, increasing pinch and grip strength and increasing performance. This would be
achieved through the application of moist heat, skin rolling, myofascial release, direct fascial
techniques, wringing, muscle stripping, trigger point therapy, and frictions completed with ice.

Results: The subject reported a decrease in pain affecting the arm, wrist and hand. Pinch and grip
strength improved in the left hand. DASH scores decreased.

Conclusion: The results suggest that a variety of therapeutic massage techniques have a positive
effect on medial epicondylitis when received regularly. Massage therapy increased strength and
decreased pain in subject, along with other symptoms commonly seen in medial epicondylitis.