What Is the Most Common Elbow Surgery?


In orthopedic surgery, the elbow is a complex joint that plays a vital role in everyday activities. It allows us to perform essential tasks like lifting, bending, and gasping. Due to its frequent use and exposure to repetitive motions, the elbow is susceptible to various injuries and conditions, often requiring surgical intervention. Among these, one of the most prevalent elbow surgeries is for a condition known as” Tennis Elbow.” Here, we will explore the nature of the Tennis Elbow, its causes, symptoms, and the surgical procedures used to address it.

Understanding Tennis Elbow

Tennis Elbow, medically referred to as lateral epicondylitis, is a common condition that affects the outer part of the elbow. Despite its name, this condition is not exclusive to tennis players, it can affect anyone who engages in activities that involve repetitive gripping or wrist extension. Such activities may include playing racquet sports, golf, weightlifting, or certain work-related tasks. The condition arises from the degeneration of the tendons that attach to the lateral epicondyle, a bony prominence on the outer side of the elbow.

Causes and Symptoms

The primary cause of Tennis Elbow is overuse and repetitive stress on the forearm muscles and tendons. This constant strain can lead to small tears in the tendons, which, over time, result in inflammation, pain, and reduced elbow function. Common symptoms of Tennis Elbow include

  1. Pain or tenderness on the outer side of the elbow, which may radiate down the forearm.
  2. Weakness in the affected arm, making it challenging to grip objects or perform simple tasks.
  3. Increased pain during activities that involve wrist extension, such as lifting, gripping, or even shaking hands.
  4. Stiffness in the elbow joint, particularly in the morning or after prolonged rest.

Non-Surgical Treatments

In many cases, Tennis Elbow can be effectively managed through conservative, non-surgical treatments. These include rest, activity modification, application of ice, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and the use of braces or straps to relieve pressure on the affected tendons. Additionally, corticosteroid injections may be administered to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

The Most Common Surgical Approach: Open Surgery

The most common surgical technique for treating Tennis Elbow is called “ open surgery” During this procedure, the surgeon makes a small inclusion over the lateral epicondyle to access the affected tendons. The damaged or degenerated lateral epicondyle accesses the affected tendons. The damaged or degenerated tissue is then removed, and any remaining healthy tendon is reattached to the bone using structures or anchors. This reattachment allows for better healing and improved the overall strength of the tendon.

Arthroscopic Surgery

In some cases, arthroscopic surgery may be used to treat Tennis Elbow. This minimally invasive approach comprehends making tiny incisions and using a small camera( arthroscope) to visualize and repair the damaged tendons. Arthroscopic surgery typically results in less scarring, reduced pain, and faster recovery compared to open surgery.

Recovery and Rehabilitation after Elbow Surgery

  1. Immediate Pos-Surgery Care: Following elbow surgery, patients are usually taken to a recovery area to allow the effects of anesthesia to wear off. The medical team will closely monitor vital signs and administer pain medications as needed. Depending on the surgical procedure and the patient’s overall health, they may be discharged the same day or kept in the hospital for observation.
  2. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is a cornerstone of the rehabilitation process after elbow surgery. Typically, therapy will begin shortly after the procedure, but the intensity and exercises prescribed will be based on the specific surgery and individual needs. The physical therapist will guide patients through exercises aimed at restoring flexibility, strength, and range of motion in the elbow joint. Initially, the emphasis may be on gentle movements, gradually progressing to more challenging exercises as the healing progresses.
  3. Gradual Return to Activities: As the elbow heals and strength improves, patients may be allowed to gradually resume daily activities. However, it is crucial to avoid overexertion or engaging in activities that could put stress on the healing joint. Patients should follow their surgeon’s guidelines on when it is safe to return to work, sports, or other physically demanding activities.

How to find expert care for elbow surgeries?

  1. Research Local Orthopedic Specialists: Start your research by researching local orthopedic specialists who have expertise in elbow surgeries. Look for hospitals, clinics, or medical centers that have a reputation for assuring excellent orthopedic care. You can use online directories, and research engines, or ask for recommendations from friends, family, or primary care physicians.
  2. Check the Surgeon’s Credentials: Once you’ve identified potential orthopedic specialists, verify their credentials. Ensure that they offer shoulder and elbow surgery and are board-certified in orthopedic surgery or have additional specialization or experience in elbow surgeries. Look for their affiliations with reputable medical organizations, their education and training background, as well as their track record of successful surgeries and patient outcomes.
  3. Seek Referrals from Trusted Sources: Ask for referrals from individuals who have undergone elbow surgeries or orthopedic treatments in the past. Personal recommendations from trusted sources, such as friends, family, or coworkers, can provide a more personalized perspective on the surgeon’s expertise, bedside manner, and overall patient care.

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