Smoking & Tennis Elbow

Reference:Titchener AG, et al Risk factors in lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow): a case-control study. J Hand Surg Eur Vol. 2013 Feb;38(2):159-64. 4.

Other than repeated heavy gripping what are the other risk factors for developing lateral epicondylalgia (LE)?

This large epidemiological study involved almost 5000 patients with LE plus age and sex matched controls.

Statistical analysis showed that the risk factors associated with LE were (in order of risk)…

1. Rotator cuff pathology

2. De Quervain’s disease

3. Carpal tunnel syndrome

4. Oral corticosteroid therapy

5. Previous smoking history

Interestingly risk factors NOT associated with LE were…

Diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, alcohol intake, obesity and current smoking.

That seems odd, if you used to smoke but quit, you get tennis elbow if you currently smoke and have not yet quit you don?t get tennis elbow. It?s amazing how stats work.

If death from cancer is not enough reason, the fear of getting ?tennis elbow? may be a better deterrent for teenagers to never start smoking!

Personal Comment: This study failed to analyze if cervical pathology may be a factor in the development of lateral elbow pain. Imagine if C6 nerve root is sensitized, it can mask as rotator cuff pathology, elbow pain and De Quervain’s. Radial nerve may be sensitized even when patients don’t complain of any specific neck pain….read on.

Posted on: July 03, 2015


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