Translation of Runge's 1873 publication “On the etiology and treatment of writer's cramp”: The first description of “tennis elbow”

Caroline W. Stegink-Jansen, Beate Jung, Jeremy S. Somerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This publication by Dr Ferdinand Runge is ubiquitously credited as first to describe the symptoms, pathology, and treatment of patients with lateral epicondylosis (tennis elbow). However, the main focus of his work was to provide insight into causes of writer's cramp and treatments for the condition, elegantly illustrated in four case reports. This work, recently cited as unavailable, is written in German. Given the high frequency of citations in the English literature, it was considered useful to translate it into English to widen access to a broader readership. The purpose of this project was briefly to introduce the life and clinical expertise of Dr. Ferdinand Runge and the content of his work, followed by a translation of the entire manuscript into English. The paper was translated by the three authors using a process of sequential consensus. All are proficient in German and English, with clinical expertise in both topics. A brief reflection is provided to place Dr Runge's observations, clinical reasoning, and contemporaneously available treatments in the context of current thinking about lateral epicondylalgia. Dr. Runge shares his expertise, carefully reporting pertinent examination findings for each case, sharing hypotheses about the etiology of writer's cramp, and using the effectiveness of his applied treatment as confirmation. He concludes that careful evaluation of the patient's activities that hindered writing prior to the onset of the writer's cramp is key to managing this ailment. The topics addressed in this classic work are still thought-provoking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-322
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Anatomy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • anatomy
  • elbow tendinopathy
  • hand
  • lateral epicondylalgia
  • lateral epicondylitis
  • muscle cramp
  • tennis elbow
  • wrist
  • writer's cramp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology


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