The posterolateral plica: a cause of refractory lateral elbow pain

J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2006 May-Jun;15(3):367-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2005.08.013.


Lateral epicondylitis is one of the most common upper extremity pain syndromes. We report the results of patients in whom conservative treatment was unsuccessful and who were finally treated arthroscopically for symptomatic plicae. Ten patients (mean age, 40 years [range, 18-60 years]) who were misdiagnosed as having lateral epicondylitis were included in this study. Examination revealed the site of maximal tenderness to be posterior to the lateral epicondyle and centered at the posterior radiocapitellar joint. Preoperatively, all patients received conservative treatment (physical therapy or corticosteroid injections [or both]). The mean follow-up was 25 months (range, 6-68 months). The mean score on the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire was 9 (range, 0-37). Preoperatively, 7 patients had full elbow range of motion; however, in 3 patients, there was a loss of extension at the elbow ranging from 7 degrees to 20 degrees preoperatively. The range of elbow motion was full in all patients postoperatively. No patient demonstrated posterolateral pain after the operation. Synovial plicae of the elbow may be the cause of lateral elbow pain in patients with vague clinical symptoms. Arthroscopic management may provide a successful treatment option for such patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arthroscopy / methods
  • Elbow Joint / pathology
  • Elbow Joint / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Tennis Elbow / complications*
  • Tennis Elbow / pathology
  • Tennis Elbow / surgery*