Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Lateral Epicondylitis

Updated: Jul 05, 2017
  • Author: Consuelo T Lorenzo, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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Overview

Background

Lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow, is the most common overuse injury of the elbow and is observed up to 10 times more frequently than medial epicondylitis. Lateral epicondylitis is usually precipitated by repetitive contraction of the wrist extensors and is characterized by aching pain that is worsened with activity. Early conservative management is the key to symptom resolution, which eventually allows return to vocational and avocational activities without restriction. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Related Medscape Reference topics:

Elbow and Forearm Overuse Injuries

Lateral Epicondylitis Surgery [Orthopedic Surgery]

Lateral Epicondylitis [Sports Medicine]

Overuse Injury

Tendonitis

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Pathophysiology

Lateral epicondylitis is a result of inflammation, or enthesitis, at the muscular origin of the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB). This inflammation leads to microtears of the tendon, with subsequent fibrosis and, ultimately, tissue failure. Less commonly, the attachments of the extensor carpi radialis longus (ECRL), extensor digitorum communis (EDC), or extensor carpi ulnaris (ECU) are involved. [6, 7, 8]

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Epidemiology

Sex

The condition affects men and women with equal frequency.

Age

Lateral epicondylitis most often occurs between the third and fifth decades of life.

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