Lateral epicondylitis in general practice: Course and prognostic indicators of outcome

Nynke Smidt*, Martyn Lewis, Daniëlle A.W.M. Van Der Windt, Elaine M. Hay, Lex M. Bouter, Peter Croft

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Objective. To investigate the course of lateral epicondylitis and identify prognostic indicators associated with short- and longterm outcome of pain intensity. Methods. We prospectively followed patients (n = 349) from 2 randomized controlled trials investigating conservative interventions for lateral epicondylitis in primary care. Uni- and multivariate linear regression analyses were used to investigate the association between potential prognostic indicators and pain intensity (0-100 point scale) measured at 1,6, and 12 months after randomization. Potential prognostic factors were duration of elbow complaints, concomitant neck pain, concomitant shoulder pain, previous elbow complaints, baseline pain scores, age, gender, involvement of dominant side, social class, and work status. The variables "study" and "treatment" were included as covariates in all models. Results. Pain scores at 1 month followup were higher in patients with severe pain, a long duration of elbow complaints, and concomitant shoulder pain. At 12 month followup, the only different prognostic indicator for poor outcome was concomitant neck pain, in place of shoulder pain. Patients from higher social classes reported lower pain scores at 12 month followup than patients from lower social classes. Conclusions. Lateral epicondylitis seems to be a self-limiting condition in most patients. Long duration of elbow complaints, concomitant neck pain, and severe pain at presentation are associated with poor outcome at 12 months. Our results will help care providers give patients accurate information regarding their prognosis and assist in medical decision-making.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2053-2059
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Rheumatology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


    • Primary health care
    • Prognosis
    • Randomized controlled trial
    • Tennis elbow


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