Management of Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy: One Size Does Not Fit All

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2015 Nov;45(11):938-49. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2015.5841. Epub 2015 Sep 17.


Synopsis Clear guidelines for the clinical management of individuals with lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET) are hampered by many proposed interventions and the condition's prognosis, ranging from immediate resolution of symptoms following simple advice in some patients to long-lasting problems, regardless of treatment, in others. This is compounded by our lack of understanding of the complexity of the underlying pathophysiology of LET. In this article, we collate evidence and expert opinion on the pathophysiology, clinical presentation, and differential diagnosis of LET. Factors that might provide prognostic value or direction for physical rehabilitation, such as the presence of neck pain, tendon tears, or central sensitization, are canvassed. Clinical recommendations for physical rehabilitation are provided, including the prescription of exercise and adjunctive physical therapy and pharmacotherapy. A preliminary algorithm, including targeted interventions, for the management of subgroups of patients with LET based on identified prognostic factors is proposed. Further research is needed to evaluate whether such an approach may lead to improved outcomes and more efficient resource allocation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2015;45(11):938-949. Epub 17 Sep 2015. doi:10.2519/jospt.2015.5841.

Keywords: epicondylalgia; prognosis; tennis elbow.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Drug Therapy*
  • Elbow Tendinopathy / diagnosis*
  • Elbow Tendinopathy / physiopathology
  • Elbow Tendinopathy / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Prognosis