The elbow is prone to a lot of repetitive use injuries. This can lead to the need for elbow surgery. A few of the most common conditions I see are things like tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), golfer’s elbow (medial epicondylitis), cubital tunnel syndrome, and distal biceps tendon ruptures.
Many elbow injuries are the result of repetitive use type activity. These can be difficult to manage and affect people from day to day, and disrupt sleep at night.
In many cases, the primary treatments for those issues are bracing, anti-inflammatories, and physical therapy–including stretching exercises. Injections can also be used occasionally. Tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are typically slower resolving problems that don’t go away as fast as people would like. However, it is essential to give them time and a focused effort to improve. In the event those things don’t work, it may be time to talk about surgical intervention.
Depending on patient factors and activity levels, surgery can be done by either an arthroscopic approach or an open approach.
Distal Biceps Ruptures
A lot of distal bicep ruptures occur in younger active males and require operative intervention.
A distal biceps rupture is time-sensitive, and something that should be looked at right away.
With this injury, the earlier it is addressed surgically, the better chance of having a primary repair and a good outcome.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome
Another condition I see quite a lot is cubital tunnel syndrome.
Many patients with this condition notice an electrical type of pain, or they notice numbness in their hand–most typically the small and ring finger. This is because the compression of the soft tissue around the ulnar nerve chokes off the blood supply.
Often, this becomes worse at night or when the elbow has been resting on something for a prolonged period of time.
There are occasions where we have to go in and decompress the ulnar nerve, much like a carpal tunnel release. This allows us to take the compression off the nerve and aid in the return of normal nerve function.
Recovery From Elbow Surgery
Whether it’s tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, distal bicep repair, or a cubital tunnel release, we must balance the immobilization, and the early range of motion postoperatively.
This is to make sure that the elbow doesn’t become overly stiff, as that can hamper recovery in the long run. Because of this, I’m a lot more apt to let people move quicker with the elbow than I am with the shoulder. Each diagnosis and surgical procedure has a specific rehabilitation protocol designed to maximize healing and restore function. We work closely with local therapists to ensure that these protocols are being observed and fully implemented.