Tennis elbow surgery

Definition

Tennis elbow is caused by doing the same forceful arm movements over and over. It creates small, painful tears in the tendons in your elbow.

This injury can be caused by tennis, other racquet sports, and activities such as turning a wrench, prolonged typing, or chopping with a knife. The outside (lateral) elbow tendon is most commonly injured. The inside (medial) and backside (posterior) tendons can also be affected.

This article discusses surgery to repair tennis elbow.

Alternative Names

Lateral epicondylitis - surgery; Lateral tendinosis - surgery; Lateral tennis elbow - surgery

Description

Surgery to repair tennis elbow is often an outpatient surgery. This means you will not stay in the hospital overnight.

You will be given medicine (sedative) to help you relax and make you sleepy. Numbing medicine (anesthesia) is given in your arm. This blocks pain during your surgery.

You may be awake or asleep with general anesthesia during the surgery.

If you have open surgery, your surgeon will make one cut (incision) over your injured tendon. The unhealthy part of the tendon is scraped away. The surgeon may repair the tendon using something called a suture anchor. Or, it may be stitched to other tendons. When the surgery is over, the cut is closed with stitches.

Sometimes, tennis elbow surgery is done using an arthroscope. This is a thin tube with a tiny camera and light on the end. Before surgery, you will get the same medicines as in open surgery to make you relax and to block pain.

The surgeon makes 1 or 2 small cuts, and inserts the scope. The scope is attached to a video monitor. This helps your surgeon see inside the elbow area. The surgeon scrapes away the unhealthy part of the tendon.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

You may need surgery if you:

Treatments you should try first include:

Risks

Risks of anesthesia and surgery in general are:

Risks of tennis elbow surgery are:

Before the Procedure

You should:

After the Procedure

After the surgery:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Tennis elbow surgery relieves pain for most people. Many people are able to return to sports and other activities that use the elbow within 4 to 6 months. Keeping up with recommended exercise helps ensure the problem will not return.

References

Adams JE, Steinmann SP. Elbow tendinopathies and tendon ruptures. In: Wolfe SW, Hotchkiss RN, Pederson WC, Kozin SH, Cohen MS, eds. Green's Operative Hand Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 25.

Wolf JM. Elbow tendinopathies and bursitis. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 65.