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Epiconodylitis Surgery – Tennis Elbow Surgery

What is it?

Epicondylitis surgery is a procedure to alleviate the pain and inflammation caused by epicondylitis, an inflammatory process that may be more accurately described as tendinosis. Also known as tennis or golfer’s elbow, the condition is widely believed to originate from repetitive overuse with microtearing and progressive degeneration.

Anatomy

Epicondylitis is a type of tendinitis that affects the inside of the elbow. It develops where tendons in the forearm muscle connect to the bony part on the inside of the elbow.

Tendons attach muscles to bones. Due to injury, the tendons can become swollen and painful. Although medial epicondylitis is referred to as golfer’s or tennis elbow, it does not only affect golfers or tennis players. It can occur from any activity involving use of the arms or wrists. A direct blow to an elbow can also make the tendons swell.

Indications/Symptoms

Pain is the primary symptom. The pain and tenderness is usually in the bony part on the outside of the elbow. This is where the injured tendons connect to the bone. The pain may also radiate into the upper or lower arm. Although the damage is in the elbow, the pain is likely to occur when doing things with  hands.

Pain can occur when an individual lifts or bends the arm. It is also felt while performing basic actions, such as writing or when gripping small objects. Pain can also be experienced when twisting the forearm, like when turning a door handle or extending the forearm.

Procedure

If rest and rehabilitation do not work after 6 to 12 months, surgery may be an option. The procedure may be done arthroscopically with a scope and a few small incisions, by open surgery through one large incision, or by more than one technique.

Surgery for tennis elbow may involve:
  • Cutting (releasing) the tendon.
  • Removing inflamed tissue from the tendon.
  • Fixing (reattaching) tendon tears if possible.
The type of surgery will depend on the problem and which method the doctor prefers.

Postoperative Care and Recovery

How long it takes to return to daily activities will vary, depending on the type of procedure. Patients will need to keep their arm in the sling for seven to 10 days to allow the wound to properly heal. While sitting or resting, patients should keep the arm elevated and bolstered with pillows to help ease pain. Ice therapy can also help. After seven to 10 days, a smaller splint may be given.

During this initial recovery phase, a person may need someone to help with tasks that require two hands.

Risks and Complications

As with all surgery, risks and complications can occur, but the risk factors are very low. According to a 2016 review of studies published in Orthopedic Clinics of North America, the rates of complications for open, arthroscopic, or percutaneous lateral epicondylitis surgery are 1.1%, 0%, and 1.2%, respectively.