Pattern Differentiation of Lateral Elbow Pain in Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Systematic Review

Marcus Gadau, Shi Ping Zhang*, Ho Yin Yip, Wing Fai Yeung, Zhaoxiang Bian, Aiping Lyu, Chris Zaslawski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) uses a sophisticated diagnostic system called pattern differentiation, which allows for the tailor-made treatment of individuals. Objective: This study aimed to identify the commonly used TCM patterns for lateral elbow pain (LEP), as well as the clinical features associated with these patterns. Method: Journal literature in 15 major Chinese and English databases and textbooks from five medical libraries as well as Chinamaxx were reviewed. Results: Five hundred and fifty-five full-text journal articles, as well as 465 textbooks, were retrieved for further assessment, but only eight studies and seven books that mentioned LEP patterns could be identified and included in this study. The top four patterns that were identified were the wind-cold-dampness pattern, the qi stagnation and blood stasis pattern, the dual deficiency of qi and blood pattern, and the retained dampness-heat pattern, each of which was associated with unique features that were made up of distinct signs and symptoms. Conclusions: The unique features identified for each of the major patterns might be the key to understanding TCM individualized treatment based on pattern differentiation. Furthermore, the approach taken in studying TCM pattern of LEP may also be useful for studying the TCM patterns of other musculoskeletal conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-935
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • acupuncture
  • epicondylitis
  • pattern differentiation
  • systematic review
  • tennis elbow
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine


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