Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a painful condition that occurs when tendons in the elbow become overloaded, usually through repetitive motions of the arm and wrist, such as those involved in swinging a tennis racquet. Typically, the pain is felt at the point where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the outer elbow.
In many cases, tennis elbow can be resolved with conservative treatments such as physical therapy and corticosteroid injections. However, a severely damaged tendon may require surgical repair. Arthroscopic treatment for tennis elbow may be an option for alleviating the pain and restoring joint range of motion.
Five Key Points About Elbow Arthroscopy
If you are considering arthroscopic treatment for chronic tennis elbow pain, here are some important factors to keep in mind:
Arthroscopic elbow surgery is minimally invasive, which usually leads to a faster recovery than traditional open surgery. Instead of making a large incision to access the damaged tendon, the surgeon makes a few small incisions, then inserts a miniature camera and specialized surgical instruments. The images captured by the camera are projected onto an external screen in real time, effectively providing the surgeon with a second set of eyes inside the elbow joint.
Arthroscopic elbow surgery is generally reserved for tennis elbow and other tendon injuries that result from repetitive use. On the other hand, open surgery may be more appropriate for addressing a tendon tear caused by direct trauma, such as a fall or car accident.
The tendons most commonly repaired during arthroscopic elbow surgery are the outside (lateral) tendons, although the inside (medial) and backside (posterior) tendons may also be repaired if necessary.
Arthroscopic elbow surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis, which means you may be able to go home and begin your recovery on the same day as your procedure. Afterward, physical therapy may help you gradually regain full range of motion and flexibility in your elbow.
If you’d like to explore arthroscopic treatment for tennis elbow, call (877) 471-0935 to request an appointment with Christopher C. Schmidt, MD, at one of his offices near Pittsburgh, PA. Widely regarded as one of the best board-certified orthopaedic surgeons in the area, Dr. Schmidt can examine your elbow and help you determine if you are a good candidate for elbow arthroscopy.
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