A structured exercise programme combined with proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching or static stretching in posttraumatic stiffness of the elbow: a randomized controlled trial
MetadataShow full item record
Objectives: To compare the different stretching techniques, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching and static stretching, in patients with elbow stiffness after a treated elbow fracture. Design: Randomized-controlled, single-blind study. Setting: Department of physiotherapy and rehabilitation. Subjects: Forty patients with posttraumatic elbow stiffness (24 women; mean age, 41.34 +/- 7.57 years). Intervention: PNF stretching group (n = 20), hold-relax PNF stretching combined with a structured exercise programme (two days per week for six weeks); static stretching group (n = 20), static stretching combined with a structured exercise programme (two days per week for six weeks). Main measures: The primary outcome is the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand (DASH). The secondary outcomes are active range of motion (AROM), visual analogue scale (VAS), Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia, Short Form-12 and Global Rating of Change. Participants were assessed at baseline, after a six-week intervention period and one-month later (follow-up). Results: After treatment, improvement in the mean DASH score was slightly better in the PNF stretching group (8.66 +/- 6.15) compared with the static stretching group (19.25 +/- 10.30) (p = 0.03). The overall group-by-time interaction for the 2 x 3 mixed-model analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was also significant for elbow flexion AROM (mean change for PNF stretching group; static stretching group; 41.10, 34.42, p = 0.04), VAS-rest (-1.31, -1.08, p = 0.03) and VAS-activity (-3.78, -3.47, p = 0.01) in favour of PNF stretching group. The other outcomes did not differ significantly between the two groups. Conclusion: The study demonstrated that the structured exercise programme combined with PNF stretching might be effective in patients with posttraumatic elbow stiffness with regard to improving function, elbow flexion AROM, pain at rest and during activity.