Sports Med  1994 Mar;17(3):189-99
Ulnar neuropathy of the elbow.
Norkus SA, Meyers MC.
Livingston University Sports Medicine, Livingston University, Alabama.

Ulnar nerve entrapment is the second most common compressive neuropathy in the upper extremity because of its anatomy and superficial location. Major aetiological factors in the development of ulnar neuropathy of the elbow are compression, inherent anatomical structures, or lesions within the cubital tunnel. Extrinsic nerve compression may be elicited by acute or recurrent trauma. Nerve mobility may be impeded by congenital deformities. Ulnar nerve dysfunction has been associated with metabolic conditions, certain occupations and athletes involved in repetitive overhead activities. Ulnar nerve injuries may result in both motor and sensory abnormalities. Common symptoms includepoint tenderness, digital numbness and hand weakness. Evaluation of suspected neuropathy includes physical inspection for muscle atrophy, bony or muscle hypertrophy, deformities, digital clawing and a radiographic examination.Clinical techniques include the elbow flexion test, strength testing of hand intrinsics, flexor carpi ulnaris and digitorum profundus, and Tinel’s sign. Sensory testing and McGowan’s grading system may confirm the diagnosis and prognosis. Treatment options range from conservative (i.e. rest, splinting,nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ice and abstinence) to radical surgical intervention (i.e. decompression, medical epicondylectomy and anterior transposition). In the throwing sport athlete, nerve involvement typically occurs along with other medical elbow problems.
PMID: 8191176 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Clinical results versus subjective improvement with anterior transposition in cubital tunnel syndrome.
Köse KC, Bilgin S, Cebesoy O, Altinel L, Akan B, Guner D, Doganay B, Adiyaman S, Demirtas M.
Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Afyon Kocatepe University Faculty of Medicine, Afyonkarahisar, Turkey.
This study was conducted to compare the results of anterior transposition methods and to determine the time needed to attain subjective well-being in patients with cubital tunnel syndrome. A total of 49 cases were retrospectively evaluated. Patients were called for follow-up, completed a questionnaire, and were reexamined. They were assigned to one of 3 groups: subcutaneous transposition (SCT), submuscular transposition (SMT), or intramuscular transposition (IMT). The McGowan classification and Wilson-Krout criteria were used for classification and outcomes assessments. Categorical variables were analyzed with the x(2) test, and metric variables by analysis of variance or through Kruskal-Wallis variance analysis. Improvement of at least 1 McGowan grade was observed in 87.63% of patients. The least responsive group was assigned a McGowan grade of III. The most effective procedure for resolving clawing was SMT. Clinical results were excellent in 26 patients (53.06%), good in 12 (24.48%), fair in 4 (8.16%), and poor in 7 (14.28%). At the latest follow-up, overall grip and pinch strength had improved by 23% and 34%, respectively, compared with the contralateral side. Thirty-six patients exhibited an improvement in grip power and 38 in fine dexterity. Complete resolution of numbness was observed in 32 patients, and complete resolution of pain was noted in 30 patients. The preoperative mean visual analog scale score of 6.82 improved to 3.36 postoperatively. Clawing improved in 4 patients and atrophy in 7. The mean time to subjective improvement was shortest in the SMT group and longest in the IMT group. The greatest pain relief was reported in the IMT group and the least in the SMT group. One case with IMT required reoperation because of recompression of the nerve. The most frequent complication in the SMT and IMT groups was muscular tenderness. In conclusion, SCT offers an alternative to other anterior transposition methods because of its simplicity and quicker recovery time, especially in mild to moderate cases.
PMID: 18029325 [PubMed – in process]

Natural history and conservative management of cubital tunnel syndrome.
Szabo RM, Kwak C.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of California, Davis School of Medicine, 4860 Y Street, Suite 3800, Sacramento, CA 95817, USA.
Successful treatment of cubital tunnel syndrome requires obtaining a history of the physical and environmental factors involved for each patient, conducting a thorough physical examination, and staging and implementing an individually tailored treatment plan. Rest and avoiding pressure on the nerve by activity modification might be sufficient. If symptoms persist, splint immobilization of the elbow is warranted. Keep in mind that the natural history of untreated cubital tunnel syndrome includes spontaneous improvement in approximately half of patients.
PMID: 17765583 [PubMed – in process]

Modified intramuscular transposition of the ulnar nerve.
Henry M.
Hand and Wrist Center of Houston, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Texas, Houston, TX 77004, USA. <>
The ulnar nerve passes posterior to the medial epicondyle and experiences longitudinal strain when subjected to elbow flexion. Furthermore, Osborne’s ligament and the arcade of fibers between the 2 heads of the flexor carpi ulnaris (Osborne’s fascia) compress the nerve during elbow flexion with narrowing of the cubital tunnel passageway. Some patients experience the added element of nerve subluxation over the posterior edge of the epicondyle. When changes to daytime ergonomic behavior and sleep posture prove insufficient to relieve a patient’s symptoms, surgical treatment is warranted. A range of procedures exists from simple decompression, to medial epicondylectomy, to anterior transposition. Transposition has been the most widely used method of treatment with the final position of the nerve lying subcutaneous, intramuscular, or submuscular. Each of the transposition methods has proponents with a variety of arguments made in favor of specific aspects of the surgery. This article presents a form of anterior transposition that seeks to draw the best elements from previously reported techniques with the goal of optimizing results.
PMID: 17095387 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Medial epicondylitis: is ultrasound guided autologous blood injection an effective treatment?
Suresh SP, Ali KE, Jones H, Connell DA.
Department of Radiology, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust, Brockley Hill, Stanmore, Middlesex HA7 4LP, UK.
OBJECTIVE: To assess if ultrasound guided autologous blood injection is an effective treatment for medial epicondylitis. METHODS: Twenty patients (13 men, 7 women) with refractory medial epicondylitis with symptom duration of 12 months underwent sonographic evaluation. Tendinosis was confirmed according to three sonographic criteria: echo texture, interstitial tears and neovascularity. The tendon was then dry needled and autologous blood was injected. Patients were reviewed at 4 weeks and at 10 months. VAS scores and modified Nirschl scores were assessed pre-procedure and post-procedure. RESULTS: There was significant reduction in VAS pain score between pre-procedure and 10 months post-procedure when it had a median (IQR) of 1.00 (1-1.75), range 0-7. The median (IQR) Nirschl score, which at pre-procedure was 6.00 (5-7), range 4-7, had decreased at 4 weeks to 4.00 (2.25-5), range 2-7, and at 10 months to 1.00 (1-1.75), range 0-7, revealing a significant decrease (z = 3.763, p<0.001). The hypo-echoic change in the flexor tendon significantly decreased between pre-procedure, when there was a mean (SD) of 6.45 (1.47), and at 10 months, when it was 3.85 (2.37) (p<0.001). Doppler ultrasound showed that neovascularity decreased between pre-procedure, when there was a mean (SD) of 6.10 (1.62), range 4-9, and at 10 months, when it was 3.60 (2.56), range 0-9 (p<0.001). DISCUSSION: The combined action of dry needling and autologous blood injection under ultrasound guidance appears to be an effective treatment for refractory medial epicondylitis as demonstrated by a significant decrease in VAS pain and a fall in the modified Nirschl scores.
PMID: 16990441 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Prevalence and determinants of lateral and medial epicondylitis: a population study.
Shiri R, Viikari-Juntura E, Varonen H, Heliövaara M.
Musculoskeletal Centre, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.
Epicondylitis is a common disorder of the arm, yet the role of individual- and work-related factors has not been addressed in a population study. The aims of this study were to estimate the prevalence of lateral and medial epicondylitis and to investigate their risk factors. The target population of this study comprised a representative sample of people aged 30-64 years residing in Finland during 2000-2001. Of the 5,871 subjects, 4,783 (81.5%) were included in this study. The prevalence of definite lateral epicondylitis was 1.3%, and that of medial epicondylitis was 0.4%. The prevalence did not differ between men and women and was highest in subjects aged 45-54 years. Current smoking (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 3.4, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.4, 8.3) and former smoking (OR = 3.0, 95% CI: 1.3, 6.6) were associated with definite lateral epicondylitis. An interaction (p = 0.002) was found between repetitive movements of the arms and forceful activities for the risk of possible or definite lateral epicondylitis (for both repetitive and forceful activities vs. no such activity: OR = 5.6, 95% CI: 1.9, 16.5). Smoking, obesity, repetitive movements, and forceful activities independently of each other showed significant associations with medial epicondylitis. Epicondylitis is relatively common among working-age individuals in the general population. Physical load factors, smoking, and obesity are strong determinants of epicondylitis.
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Thomas Jefferson University Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Medial epicondylitis of the elbow involves pathologic alteration in the musculotendinous origins at the medial epicondyle. Although commonly referred to as “golfer’s elbow”, the condition may in fact be caused by a variety of sports and occupational activities. Accurate diagnosis requires a thorough understanding of the anatomic, epidemiologic, and pathophysiologic factors. Nonoperative treatment involves rest, ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, and possibly corticosteroid injection followed by guided rehabilitation and return to sport. Operative treatment is indicated for debilitating pain after exclusion of other pathologic causes that persists in spite of a well-managed nonoperative regimen spanning a minimum of 6 months. The surgical technique involves excision of the pathologic portion of the tendon, repair of the resulting defect, and reattachment of the origin of the flexor pronator muscle group to the medial epicondyle. Surgical treatment results in a high degree of subjective relief, although objective strength deficits may persist.
PMID: 16518220 [PubMed – in process]
MID: 16968862 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Magnetic resonance imaging findings in patients with medial epicondylitis.
Kijowski R, De Smet AA.
Department of Radiology, University of Wisconsin Hospital, Clinical Science Center E3/311, 600 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53792-3252, USA.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the MR imaging findings of 13 patients with clinically diagnosed medial epicondylitis with the MR imaging findings of 26 patients of similar age with no clinical evidence of medial epicondylitis. DESIGN AND PATIENTS: The study group consisted of 13 patients with clinically diagnosed medial epicondylitis. The control group consisted of 26 patients of similar age with no clinical evidence of medial epicondylitis. The medical records and MR imaging findings of these patients were retrospectively reviewed by two fellowship-trained musculoskeletal radiologists. RESULTS: Eleven of the 13 patients in the study group had thickening and increased signal intensity of the common flexor tendon on both T1-weighted and T2-weighted images. The remaining two patients in the study group had soft tissue edema around a normal-appearing common flexor tendon. Twenty-one of the 26 patients in the control group had a normal-appearing common flexor tendon on MR imaging. Three patients in the control group had a thickened common flexor tendon which was of intermediate signal intensity on T1-weighted images but of uniform low signal intensity on T2-weighted images. Two patients in the control group had a thickened common flexor tendon which was of intermediate signal intensity on both T1-weighted and T2-weighted images. None of the patients in the control group had soft tissue edema around the common flexor tendon. CONCLUSION: MR imaging findings of patients with clinically diagnosed medial epicondylitis included thickening and increased T1 and T2 signal intensity of the common flexor tendon and soft tissue edema around the common flexor tendon. The presence of intermediate to high T2 signal intensity or high T2 signal intensity within the common flexor tendon and the presence of paratendinous soft tissue edema were the most specific findings of medial epicondylitis on MR imaging.
PMID: 15711999 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Chronic medial and lateral epicondylitis: a comparison of pain, disability, and function.
Pienimäki TT, Siira PT, Vanharanta H.
Oulu Regional Institute of Occupational Health, Oulu University Hospital, Aapistie 1, FIN-90220 Oulu, Finland.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate pain, disability, and muscle function of the arm in medial epicondylitis and to compare the results with those in chronic lateral epicondylitis. DESIGN: Cross-sectional, case-control study. SETTING: University hospital clinic admitting chronic hand patients. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-five patients with chronic unilateral medial epicondylitis and 25 age- and gender-matched patients with chronic unilateral lateral epicondylitis. INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Pain drawing (PD) and a pain questionnaire with 7 items of pain and disability on visual analog scale (VAS). Dolorimeter measurements of pressure pain thresholds (PPT) on 3 defined cubital points. The isometric grip strength and isokinetic performance of wrist and forearm at a radial velocity of 90 degrees/s. RESULTS: Patients with medial epicondylitis had significantly less pain under strain (6.7 vs 7.9cm on VAS, P =.03) and a smaller PD (1.9 vs 2.5, P =.02) than patients with lateral epicondylitis. The PPTs of medial epicondyles were 54% (P =.0000) lower in medial epicondylitis. In lateral epicondylitis, all 3 cubital points showed significant decreases in PPTs. The isometric grip strength (mean and maximal) decreased by 6.2% and 3.6%, compared with the patients’ healthy arms (P =.03,.16) and by 11.4% and 8.9% (P =.008,.02), respectively, compared with the expected value; in lateral epicondylitis, the grip strength decreased by 11.8% and 10.6% (P =.005,.01) and by 15% and 14% (P =.003,.007), respectively, when compared with the expected grip strength. Peak torque and produced work in wrist flexion were significantly reduced by 13% and 17% (P =.005,.0001), respectively, in both diseases. In lateral epicondylitis, supination and pronation were also reduced by 10% and 15% (P =.03). CONCLUSIONS: In chronic medial epicondylitis, muscle function and pain measures showed a lesser impaired function of the arm than in chronic lateral epicondylitis. The results may be useful in rehabilitation and treatment of epicondylitis. Copyright 2002 by the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
PMID: 11887110 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

The efficacy of an injection of steroids for medial epicondylitis. A prospective study of sixty elbows.
Stahl S, Kaufman T.
Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.
We report the details of a prospective, randomized, double-blind study that was undertaken to analyze the short-term and long-term effects of the local injection of methylprednisolone to treat medial epicondylitis. Fifty-eight patients (sixty elbows) were assigned to receive a single injection of 1 per cent lidocaine with either forty milligrams of methylprednisolone (experimental group) or saline solution (control group); both groups were also managed with physical therapy and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The two groups were not significantly different with regard to the age and gender of the patients, the duration of the symptoms, the degree of pain before the injection, or the number of dominant upper limbs involved. Six weeks after the injection, the experimental group had significantly less pain than the control group (p < 0.03), as determined with a modification of the grading system of Nirschl and Pettrone. However, the groups did not differ with regard to pain at three months and at one year. The intensity of pain, as measured on a visual-analog scale, did not differ between the two groups six weeks and one year after the injection. We believe that the improvement observed in both groups primarily reflects the natural history of the disorder, and we conclude that the local injection of steroids provides only short-term benefits in the treatment of medial epicondylitis.
PMID: 9384424 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Medial epicondylitis. Etiology, diagnosis, therapeutic modalities]
[Article in French]
Tschantz P, Meine J.
Service de chirurgie, Hôpital des Cadolles, Neuchâtel.
Medial epicondylitis is rather uncommon, less frequent than external epicondylitis. For this reason, the diagnosis is thought of rather late. While taking the history, one should try to find out the possible causative effects. Symptoms of irritation of the cubital nerve, which are present in one out of five cases should be looked for. Several sports such as baseball, javelin or weight throwing, volleyball, climbing, tennis, golf, which need a strong flexion of the hand and fingers can induce this condition. However, in more than half of our patients, sports or professional activities were not in cause. The majority were housewives and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. Among our 55 operated cases, out of which few had professional or sports activities, we did not encounter during the operation the macroscopic tendinous lesions that are sometimes described by some authors. The treatment should be conservative in all cases. This includes rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, physiotherapy, muscular stretching, immobilisation in a cast, steroid infiltrations. One patient out of ten will have to be operated on. The operative techniques differ on some details, but they all include the desinsertion of the flexor muscles on the medial epicondyle. When there are clinical signs of irritation of the cubital nerve, it should be transposed anteriorly. The result of these operations is good in more than 90 per cent of the cases. However, a come back to professional sport can take as long as 8 months.
PMID: 8130003 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE

The “Moving Valgus Stress Test” for Medial Collateral Ligament Tears of the Elbow
Shawn W. M. O’Driscoll, PhD, MD*,, Richard L. Lawton, MD, PhD and Adam M. Smith, MD
Background: The diagnosis of a painful partial tear of the medial collateral ligament in overhead-throwing athletes is challenging, even for experienced elbow surgeons and despite the use of sophisticated imaging techniques.
Hypothesis: The “moving valgus stress test” is an accurate physical examination technique for diagnosis of medial collateral ligament attenuation in the elbow.
Study Design: Cohort study (diagnosis); Level of evidence, 2.
Methods: Twenty-one patients underwent surgical intervention for medial elbow pain due to medial collateral ligament insufficiency or other abnormality of chronic valgus overload, and they were assessed preoperatively with an examination called the moving valgus stress test. To perform the moving valgus stress test, the examiner applies and maintains a constant moderate valgus torque to the fully flexed elbow and then quickly extends the elbow. The test is positive if the medial elbow pain is reproduced at the medial collateral ligament and is at maximum between 120° and 70°.
Results: The moving valgus stress test was highly sensitive (100%, 17 of 17 patients) and specific (75%, 3 of 4 patients) when compared to assessment of the medial collateral ligament by surgical exploration or arthroscopic valgus stress testing. The mean shear range (ie, the arc within which pain was produced with the moving valgus stress test) was 120° to 70°. The mean angle at which pain was at a maximum was 90° of elbow flexion.
Conclusions: The moving valgus stress test is an accurate physical examination technique that, when performed and interpreted correctly, is highly sensitive for medial elbow pain arising from the medial collateral ligament.

Arthroscopic treatment of posterolateral elbow impingement from lateral synovial plicae in throwing athletes and golfers.

Kim DH, Gambardella RA, Elattrache NS, Yocum LA, Jobe FW.
Huntington Beach Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Huntington Beach, CA 92647, USA.
BACKGROUND: Although elbow pain is common in throwing athletes and golfers, posterolateral impingement from a hypertrophic synovial plica is a rare but possibly underdiagnosed condition. PURPOSE: To evaluate the clinical results of arthroscopic treatment of symptomatic lateral elbow plicae in this athletic population. STUDY DESIGN: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. METHODS: Twelve patients, 9 male and 3 female, whose mean age was 21.6 years (range, 17-33 years), were reviewed. There were 7 baseball pitchers, 2 softball players, and 3 golfers. All patients had diagnosed isolated lateral elbow plica; none had lateral epicondylitis, instability, osteochondritis dissecans, arthritis, loose bodies, or nerve conditions. The mean time from onset of symptoms to treatment was 9.25 months (range, 3-24.5 months). At a mean follow-up of 33.8 months (range, 24-65.5 months), patients were evaluated with a questionnaire and examination, based on the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons standardized elbow assessment and previously reported elbow outcome score. RESULTS: Posterolateral elbow pain was present in all patients. Fifty-eight percent (7 of 12 patients) complained of clicking or catching, whereas only 25% (3 of 12) experienced swelling or effusion. At elbow arthroscopy, a thickened synovial lateral plica was debrided in all cases. Ninety-two percent (11 of 12 patients) reported an excellent outcome with a mean elbow score of 92.5 points (maximum, 100 points). Return to competitive play averaged 4.8 months (range, 3-9.5 months). One patient with a fair outcome developed medial elbow instability that later required reconstructive surgery. CONCLUSION: Posterolateral elbow impingement from hypertrophic synovial plicae can cause significant pain and disability in throwing athletes and golfers. With careful diagnosis and exclusion of other elbow problems, treatment with arthroscopic debridement and focused rehabilitation is highly successful and allows these athletes to return to their previous level of play.
PMID: 16365372 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Incidence of ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow in repetitive work.
Descatha A, Leclerc A, Chastang JF, Roquelaure Y; Study Group on Repetitive Work.
Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (National Institute for Health and Medical Research), U88-IFR 69, Saint-Maurice, France.
OBJECTIVES: Despite the high frequency of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, the relation between work conditions and ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow has not been the object of much research. In the present study, the predictive factors for such ulnar nerve entrapment were determined in a 3-year prospective survey of upper-limb work-related musculoskeletal disorders in repetitive work. METHODS: In 1993-1994 and 3 years later, 598 workers whose jobs involved repetitive work underwent an examination by their occupational health physicians and completed a self-administered questionnaire. Predictive factors associated with the onset of ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow were studied with bivariate and multivariate analyses. RESULTS: The annual incidence was estimated at 0.8% per person-year, on the basis of 15 new cases during the 3-year period. Holding a tool in position was the only predictive biomechanical factor [odds ratio (OR) 4.1, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 1.4-12.0]. Obesity increased the risk of ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow (OR 4.3, 95% CI 1.2-16.2), as did the presence of medial epicondylitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, radial tunnel syndrome, and cervicobrachial neuralgia. The associations with “holding a tool in position” and obesity were unchanged when the presence of other diagnoses was taken into account. CONCLUSIONS: Despite the limitations of the study, the results suggest that the incidence of ulnar nerve entrapment at the elbow is associated with one biomechanical risk factor (holding a tool in position, repetitively), overweight, and other upper-limb work-related musculoskeletal disorders, especially medial epicondylitis and other nerve entrapment disorders (cervicobrachial neuralgia and carpal and radial tunnel syndromes).
PMID: 15250652 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE

Frank W. Jobe, MD
Centinela Hospital Medical Center, Biomechanics Laboratory, Inglewood, California
To describe the relationship of the pronator teres, flexor carpi radialis, flexor digitorum superficialis, and flexor carpi ulnaris muscles to the medial collateral ligament at 30°, 90°, and 120° of elbow flexion, we dissected 11 cadaveric specimens. The flexor carpi ulnaris muscle is the predominant musculotendinous unit overlying the medial collateral ligament in the majority of cases and is the only one at 120° of elbow flexion. The flexor digi torum superficialis muscle is the only other significant contributor. The medial collateral ligament is the pri mary stabilizer of the medial elbow with elbow flexion greater than 30°, as in throwing. The flexor carpi ulnaris muscle, because of its position directly over the medial collateral ligament, and the flexor digitorum superficialis muscle, with its near proximity and relatively large bulk, are the specific muscles best suited to provide medial elbow support. This is especially relevant to overhand throwing athletes who encounter extreme valgus force across the elbow during the cocking and acceleration phases of the throwing motion. Exercise and conditioning of the medial elbow musculature, specifically the flexor digitorum superficialis muscle and the flexor carpi ulnaris muscle, may prevent injury or assist in rehabilitation of medial elbow instability, especially in overhand throwing athletes.

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