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Arthroscopic Treatment of Tennis Elbow

Brett Cascio, M.D.

Arthroscopic Treatment of Tennis Elbow

Arthroscopic Treatment of Tennis Elbow

What is Arthroscopic Treatment of Tennis Elbow?

Arthroscopic treatment of tennis elbow is a procedure used to clear damaged tissue from the elbow joint caused by lateral epicondylitis, or tennis elbow. Tennis elbow is a painful condition that can be caused by overuse of the elbow, degeneration, or trauma to the outside of the elbow that causes mechanical problems with the tendons in the elbow.

Who needs this procedure?

Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow. This pain increases when the wrist is used, even for simple actions like brushing teeth or shaking hands. Lateral epicondylitis is often seen in athletes who play sports that require a racquet, like tennis, or other activities that involve repetitive use of the elbow, forearm, or wrist. This condition can also occur from trauma to the outside of the elbow or from the normal wear-and-tear that occurs with aging. Often conservative treatment like rest, physical therapy, and over-the-counter pain medication can help ease these symptoms. If these treatments don't help, then arthroscopic surgery may be an option.

What are the steps in this procedure?

Initial Incisions Made

After anesthesia is applied, the surgeon makes several small incisions around the elbow. A small camera called an arthroscope is inserted into one of the incisions, while small tools are inserted in the others.

Examining the Elbow

One of the small tools is used to pump fluid into the joint in order to expand it. This makes the procedure easier to perform by allowing the surgeon more room and providing a clearer picture from the arthroscope. The surgeon uses the arthroscope to inspect the joint to determine the extent of damage and to confirm the diagnosis of lateral epicondylitis.

Joint Repair

After confirmation of the diagnosis, the surgeon uses the tools to remove damaged tissue and repair the affected tendon. Then, any loose bodies are removed in a process called debridement. Any bone spurs will be filed down, and loose or damaged cartilage is removed.

End of the Procedure

After debridement is completed and tools are removed, all incisions are closed with surgical staples or sutures. The elbow is then bandaged.

After Surgery

This procedure is often performed as an outpatient procedure. You may be prescribed pain medication and rehabilitation exercises after the surgery. Length of recovery time depends on the patient's adherence to any physical therapy exercises prescribed.

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