Tennis Elbow Surgery


What is Tennis Elbow Surgery? Tennis elbow surgery is also known as lateral epicondylitis release. This type of surgery is used widely to treat lateral epicondylitis or tennis elbow. It is mainly used when the usual conservative treatment options fail to resolve the loss of grip strength and pain in the elbow.

Tennis elbow surgery involves removing the damaged or diseased tendon. Usually, this particular tendon is located at the point within the elbow where it attaches to the lateral epicondyle (a bone outside the elbow). Through surgery for the tennis elbow, the tension in your elbow can be eased along with all accompanying symptoms.

Doctors at Sforzo l Dillingham l Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine can perform tennis elbow surgery to help you lead a happy and fulfilling life. A combination of post-tennis elbow surgery exercises and tennis elbow treatment can speed up your recovery time. 

Tennis Elbow Surgery Anatomy


Typically, your elbow is made up of the upper arm bone known as the humerus, the large forearm bone referred to as the ulna, and the small forearm bone called the radius. These bones are held together by special ligaments, muscles, and tendons. The bony bump found on the lateral side (on the outside) of your elbow is what experts call the lateral epicondyle.

So, during the tennis elbow surgery, your physician helps alleviate the inflammation and pain caused by a condition known as lateral epicondylitis.

Surgical options may include:

  • Repairing tension tears
  • Removal of the inflamed tendon
  • Releasing a part or portion of the damaged tendon from the bones

If you need lateral epicondylitis surgery, you can reach out to Dr. Christopher R. Sforzo at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine. The doctor is not only a board-certified orthopedic surgeon but also a fellowship-trained professional in upper extremity and hand surgery. 

Dr. Sforzo offers expert care in the arm, elbow, shoulder, wrist, forearm, and hand treatment. Besides, this physician performs surgical procedures using less invasive techniques such as arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery, endoscopic carpal tunnel release, and arthroscopic elbow and wrist procedures.  

Types of Tennis Elbow Surgery

When it comes to fixing a tennis elbow, your physician will apply the right technique. A lot of preparation is needed before you can undergo this important orthopedic procedure. 

First, you will meet your orthopedic surgeon for a review of your pre-operative test results. The surgeon will provide you with a list of everything you should do or avoid prior to surgery. Thereafter, the surgeon will choose the most appropriate type of tennis elbow surgery to be performed on your elbow.

In this case, the surgeon will consider open or arthroscopic surgery. 

  1.     Open surgery 

The surgeon proceeds to cut just above the bone (on the lateral side of your elbow) using a scalpel. Once the incision is made, Dr. Christopher R. Sforzo at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine removes all the damaged pieces of the tendon to pave the way for the reattachment of healthy parts to the bone. The tendon is then repaired by one of the various methods.

In some cases, your surgeon might get rid of any tiny piece of the bone to improve blood circulation. The removal of small pieces of bones can also help speed up tennis elbow surgery recovery time. 

  1.     Arthroscopic surgery

Your surgeon will make a few small cuts (incisions) in the skin just over your elbow. The surgeon will insert very tiny instruments and a small camera into the incisions to remove the damaged tendon. 

After tennis elbow surgery using any of the above procedures, the surgeon will close the opening using a row of stitches (sutures) or staples. The operated area will also be covered with a clean bandage. Bear in mind that this is same-day surgery, so you should look forward to going home once the operation is complete. 

Causes of Tennis Elbow Surgery


Even though this condition is called tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis, it mostly (85%) affects those who don’t play tennis. The condition is brought about by performing certain activities over and over again. Overuse of your elbow can lead to lateral epicondylitis. 

The repetitive motions made by your elbows can create tiny tears in the tendon. These tiny tears are likely to cause a lot of pain when lifting objects or moving your forearm. 

Common activities that cause tennis elbow include:

  • Painting
  • Gardening
  • Fixing items using a screwdriver

Racket sports may also cause tennis elbow tears. This is attributed to the fact that when playing tennis, squash, and racquetball, you execute repetitive motions while swinging the racket. In the process, you end up causing injuries to your tendons and muscles within the elbow. The wrong size racquet can as well spark tennis elbow. 

Reach out to Dr. Christopher R. Sforzo and Dr. Christopher L. Dillingham at Sforzo | Dillingham | Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine for your orthopedic surgery needs. Both doctors are board-certified orthopedic surgeons with many years of experience in surgeries involving fracture repair, tendon repair, and ankle and foot disorders, among others. 

Tennis Elbow Surgery Diagnosis 

During the diagnosis of a tennis elbow injury, your physician may suggest the following tests to be done before the actual treatment:

  1.     X-ray 

This type of test provides detailed images of the densest structure, such as bones. X-rays play a critical role in diagnosing tennis elbow injuries to help rule out causes of arthritis.

  1.     MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan produces images of soft tissues such as tendons and muscles. Your physician may order an MRI to determine the damage to the tendon. MRI can also help rule out the presence of other injuries.

  1.     EMG

Commonly known as electromyography, an EMG test can be done specifically to rule out incidents of nerve compression. This is because symptoms caused by nerve compression are almost similar to those of lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). 

Tennis Elbow Surgery Treatments

Two types of treatment for tennis elbow include: 

  1.     Nonsurgical Treatment

About 95% of tennis elbow surgery success with nonsurgical treatment has been reported among many patients. These non-surgical treatment options involve taking enough rest, use of medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, and physical therapy (tennis elbow exercises). Other options may include the use of braces, steroid injections, and platelet-rich plasma, including equipment check and extracorporeal shock-wave therapy.  

  1.     Surgical Treatment

If your symptoms persist after six to 12 months of using nonsurgical treatments, you may turn to surgery. In this case, your caregiver may recommend open surgery or arthroscopic surgery. 

Post-operative Care after Elbow Surgery Treatments

After your tennis elbow surgery treatment, your doctor will suggest post-operative care. In this regard, you may have to wear a sling or splint around the elbow for one week. The sling will keep the arm still throughout to avoid injuries. If the elbow feels sore, make sure to ice it to reduce the swelling. Take pain relievers to prevent any discomfort that may arise. After the splint has come off, stretch your elbows to increase flexibility while improving movement around the elbow. 

Tennis elbow is among the conditions that occur due to overuse problems. This means that the more you use your elbow and forearm, the more the stress on the extensor tendons and elbow builds up. Eventually, these prolonged periods of repetitive actions lead to the build-up of symptoms. Tennis elbow can take weeks or months to heal even with the right treatment and exercises. Learn more about elbow tennis injury and surgery by visiting Sforzo I Dillingham I Stewart Orthopedics + Sports Medicine today.