Persistent tennis elbow symptoms have little prognostic value: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Review written by Dr Val Jones info

Key Points

  1. 90% of patients who received no active treatment for lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET) had either completely recovered or were much improved by 1 year.
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Lateral elbow tendinopathy (LET) or tennis elbow is a common painful condition that limits upper limb function (1). In long standing cases, surgery may be recommended if symptoms persist despite non- surgical management, as it is assumed the condition does not continue to improve over time. However, this assumption may not be true. Analyzing the results from the control arms of tennis elbow studies who have not received treatment, can help to show the natural history of the disorder.

The aim of this systematic review was to describe the course of individuals with LET who received no active treatment (placebo or no treatment) in published randomized controlled trials.

Lateral elbow tendinopathy is a common painful condition that limits upper limb function.
Up to 90% of people with lateral elbow tendinopathy have either completely recovered or are much improved by one year.


  • 3 electronic databases (MEDLINE, Embase, and CENTRA) were searched for randomized controlled trials, looking at the effects of treatment on the pain and disability of LET.
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