Elbow tendinopathy and tendon ruptures: epicondylitis, biceps and triceps ruptures.
Lateral and medial epicondylitis are common causes of elbow pain in the general population, with the lateral variety being more common than the medial by a ratio reportedly ranging from 4:1 to 7:1. Initially thought to be an inflammatory condition, epicondylitis has ultimately been shown to result from tendinous microtearing followed by an incomplete reparative response. Numerous nonoperative and operative treatment options have been employed in the treatment of epicondylitis, without the emergence of a single, consistent, universally accepted treatment protocol. Tendon ruptures about the elbow are much less frequent, but result in more significant disability and loss of function. Distal biceps tendon ruptures typically occur in middle-aged males as a result of an event that causes a sudden, eccentric contraction of the biceps. Triceps tendon ruptures are exceedingly rare but usually have a similar etiology with a forceful eccentric contraction of the triceps that causes avulsion of the tendon from the olecranon. The diagnosis of these injuries is not always readily made. Complete ruptures of the biceps or triceps tendons have traditionally been treated surgically with good results. With regard to biceps ruptures, there continues to be debate about the best surgical approach, as well as the best method of fixation of tendon to bone. This article is not meant to be an exhaustive review of the broad topics of elbow tendinopathy and tendon ruptures, but rather is a review of recently published information on the topics that will assist the clinician in diagnosis and management of these conditions.
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