Lateral and medial epicondylitis: role of occupational factors

Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2011 Feb;25(1):43-57. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2011.01.013.


Epicondylitis is a common upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorder. It is most common at the age of 40-60 years. Epicondylitis seems to affect women more frequently than men. Diagnosis of epicondylitis is clinical and based on symptoms and findings of physical examination. The prevalence of lateral epicondylitis in the general populations is approximately 1.0-1.3% in men and 1.1-4.0% in women and that of medial epicondylitis is nearly 0.3-0.6% in men and 0.3-1.1% in women. The incidence rate of medical consultations has been estimated at 0.3-1.1 for lateral and 0.1 for medial epicondylitis per year per 100 subjects of general practice populations. Of occupational risk factors, forceful activities, high force combined with high repetition or awkward posture and awkward postures are associated with epicondylitis. The number of studies is limited to work-related psychosocial factors and the effects are not as consistent as those of physical load factors. Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections and acupuncture provide short-term beneficial effects. Workload modification should be considered, especially in manually strenuous jobs. According to clinical case series, surgical treatment has shown fair to good results; however, the efficacy of surgical treatment has not been evaluated in randomised controlled trials. Poorer prognosis of epicondylitis has been reported for individuals with high level of physical strain at work, non-neutral wrist postures during work activity and for those with the condition on the dominant elbow. Modification of physical factors could reduce the risk or improve the prognosis of epicondylitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / physiopathology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Posture
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Tennis Elbow / epidemiology*
  • Tennis Elbow / physiopathology
  • Tennis Elbow / prevention & control*