Which history is characteristic of lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)?

Updated: Oct 30, 2018
  • Author: Bryant James Walrod, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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See the list below:

  • The typical age of those affected is 40 to 50 years.

  • Patients most typically report an insidious onset, but they will often relate a history of overuse without specific trauma.

  • Symptom onset generally occurs 24-72 hours after repeated wrist extension activity.

  • Delayed symptoms are probably due to microscopic tears in the tendon.

  • The patient complains of pain over the lateral elbow that worsens with activity and improves with rest. The patient will also often describe aggravating conditions such as a backhand stroke in tennis or the overuse of a screwdriver.

  • Pain may radiate down the posterior aspect of the forearm.

  • The patient can often pinpoint pain 1.5 cm distal to the origin of the ECRB.

  • Pain can vary from being mild (eg, with aggravating activities like tennis or the repeated use of a hand tool), or it can be such severe pain that simple activities like picking up and holding a coffee cup (ie, "coffee cup sign") will act as a trigger for the pain.

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