Defining tennis elbow characteristics – the assessment of magnetic resonance imaging defined tendon pathology in an asymptomatic population

Review written by Dr Val Jones info

Key Points

  1. Lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET) is a common encountered disorder, with increasing prevalence in middle age.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET) or tennis elbow is a common painful condition that limits upper limb function (1), most frequently affecting individuals between the ages of 35 and 65 years (2).

LET is usually diagnosed via a combination of both subjective history and physical examination. However, more recently with improvements in technology, radiological studies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are being used to aid diagnosis, prognosis and as a justification for interventional treatment planning, such as injections or surgery. Recently these studies have been called into question, as the prevalence of these radiological findings in asymptomatic individuals has not been ascertained.

The aims of this study review were to primarily obtain data on the prevalence of MRI changes commonly associated with tennis elbow, in an asymptomatic population, and also secondarily, to explore associations of MRI changes with age, gender, body mass index (BMI) and hand dominance.

Lateral elbow tendinopathy/tennis elbow is a common painful condition that limits upper limb function, most frequently affecting individuals between the ages of 35 and 65 years.
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Lateral elbow tendinopathy diagnosis should be made following a careful history and physical examination, with MRI findings used cautiously in the assessment and management of the disorder.

METHODS

  • 30 healthy volunteers were prospectively recruited, with an equal split between male and females, and stratified into three groups, age wise, that represent the most common age presentations of LET.
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