Tennis Elbow Overview
Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is the most common source of elbow pain. When the tendons that join the forearm muscles become inflamed due to repetitive movements, it causes pain and tenderness. And you don’t need to be a tennis player to develop this condition, although racquet sports do increase the risk.
How to Treat Tennis Elbow
For minor cases of tennis elbow, there are non-surgical options available. These include anti-inflammatory medications, a brace to ease the pain, or a cortisone injection. However, in extreme cases, where there is immense pain (such as difficulty picking up something light or shaking someone’s hand), then an outpatient arthroscopic procedure may be in order.
Tennis Elbow Surgery
An elbow arthroscopy is done in a surgical setting and takes less than an hour. There is a small incision made on both the inside and outside of the arm where an arthroscope is used in order to see inside the arm to pinpoint the injury. Another small incision is made on the outside of the elbow, and with the use of specialized tools, the area that is partially torn is removed.
Elbow Tendonitis Recovery
The patient can go home that day and can move the elbow as tolerated. Resistance or strengthening activities should be avoided for approximately four weeks. Patients will do a self-directed range-of-motion program involving their hand, wrist and elbow. After four weeks, patients will be referred to an occupational therapist to start a rehabilitation program. Many patients will notice pain relief just a few days after the procedure. The anticipated recovery time for returning to full strength is three to four months.
Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis) Overview
Golfer’s elbow, also called medial epicondylitis, is a condition in which the tendon attachments at the inside of the elbow becomes inflamed. These tendons aid several muscles used to move the hand and wrist. Most people notice pain inside the elbow with activities that involve a repeated gripping motion or stress on those tendons— golf, rock climbing, baseball, etc.
Golfer’s Elbow Treatments
The initial treatment for medial epicondylitis involves rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, bracing and physical therapy. If symptoms continue despite conservative treatment, surgery may be an option. The surgery performed for this problem is done through an open incision on the inside part of the elbow. With this, the tendon attachment can be directly visualized. Scar tissue and inflammation at this site are cleaned up and removed, and the tendon is evaluated for any further damage and repaired if necessary.
Elbow Tendonitis Recovery
This is an outpatient surgery, which means you will go home the day of your surgery. Dr. Romeo will give you specific instructions to manage any post-op pain. You will be placed in a splint for one week after your surgery, after which time the splint is removed and your elbow is supported in a sling for another three weeks. Physical therapy then begins to restore your range of motion, followed by a strengthening program. A typical recovery time after this procedure is four to six months.
For more information about causes and treatment of elbow tendonitis, please request an appointment with experienced Chicago orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Anthony Romeo. Call or email our office today to schedule your visit.
Anthony Romeo, MD
Dr. Anthony Romeo is one of the nation’s leading orthopaedic surgeons specializing in the management and surgical treatment of shoulder and elbow conditions. His state-of-the-art practice employs minimally-invasive arthroscopic techniques to accelerate the recovery process for a range of challenging conditions.