Lateral epicondylitis, or ‘tennis elbow’, is a common condition that usually affects patients between 35 and 55 years of age. It is generally self-limiting, but in some patients it may continue to cause persistent symptoms, which can be refractory to treatment.
Lateral epicondylitis was first described in the medical literature by Runge in 1873. Rather than an inflammatory condition, it is a tendinosis (i.e., chronic symptomatic degeneration of the tendon) that affects the common attachment of the tendons of the extensor muscles of the forearm (extensor carpi radialis brevis, extensor digitorum, extensor digiti minimi and extensor carpi ulnaris) to the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.
In the United Kingdom it affects between 1% and 3% of the population, mainly those aged from 35 to 55 years, with an equal gender distribution. It is generally self limiting, and most cases require no more than treatment with simple analgesia.