Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylalgia is a diagnosis familiar to many within the general community and presents with an uncomplicated clinical picture in most cases. However, the underlying pathophysiology presents a more complex state and its management has not been conclusively determined. Research on this topic extends across anatomical, biomechanical and clinical literature, however integration of findings is lacking. We propose that the current understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of lateral epicondylalgia can be conceptualised as encompassing three interrelated components: (i) the local tendon pathology, (ii) changes in the pain system, and (iii) motor system impairments. This paper presents a model that integrates these components on the basis of a literature review with the express aim of assisting in the targeting of specific treatments or combinations thereof to individual patients. This paper posits that the relative expressions of local tendon pathology, changes in the pain system and impairment in the motor system can be used to not only optimally target therapeutics in the clinic but also in the research context.
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