You may need surgery if you:
- Have tried other treatments for at least 3 months
- Are having pain that limits your activity
Treatments you should try first include:
- Limiting activity or sports to rest your arm
- Changing the sports equipment you are using
- Taking medicines, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen
- Doing exercises to relieve pain as recommended by the doctor or physical therapist
- Making workplace changes to improve your sitting position and how you use equipment at work
- Wearing elbow splints or braces to rest your muscles and tendons
- Getting shots of steroid medicine, such as cortisone. This is done by your doctor
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.
After the surgery:
- Your elbow and arm will likely have a thick bandage or a splint
- You can go home when effects of the sedative wear off
- Follow instructions on how to care for your wound and arm at home. This includes taking medicine to ease pain from the surgery
- You should begin moving your arm gently, as recommended by your surgeon
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.