Pain, functional disability, and psychologic status in tennis elbow

Clin J Pain. 2007 Jul-Aug;23(6):482-9. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e31805f70fa.


Objectives: First to compare pain and functional disability in tennis elbow (TE) patients with healthy controls. Second, to evaluate the relationship between the 2 major psychologic factors (anxiety and depression) and TE.

Methods: Sixteen TE patients were recruited from 46 consecutive attendees at an upper limb clinic: inclusion criteria were lateral epicondyle tenderness, pain with resisted wrist and middle finger extension and at least 3 months localized lateral elbow pain. Sixteen healthy controls with no upper limb problem were recruited from students and staff. Participants were given 4 questionnaires, together with instructions for completion: Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand, Patient-Rated Forearm Evaluation Questionnaire, Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation Questionnaire, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. The independent t test was used to compare the total and subscale scores between the groups.

Results: Significantly higher scores were found in TE for pain and function subscales and also total score for Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand, Patient-Rated Forearm Evaluation Questionnaire, and Patient-Rated Wrist Evaluation Questionnaire. For Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, both anxiety and depression subscales (P<0.001) and the total score (P<0.01) were significantly higher in TE. According to the anxiety and depression subscales, 55% and 36% of patients, respectively, were classified as probable cases (score >11).

Discussion: TE patients showed markedly increased pain and functional disability. Significantly elevated levels of depression and anxiety pointed out the importance of psychologic assessment in TE patients. In the development of supportive and treatment strategies, we suggest the combination of "upper limb" and "psychologic" assessment tools.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Fear / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tennis Elbow / physiopathology*
  • Tennis Elbow / psychology*