Pros And Cons Of Tennis Elbow Surgery

Pros And Cons Of Tennis Elbow Surgery

Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is inflammation of the elbow joint resulting in moderate to severe pain on the outside of the elbow

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Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is inflammation of the elbow joint resulting in moderate to severe pain on the outside of the elbow region according to elbow injury doctors. The condition is not just exclusive to tennis players, it can occur to other athletes and normal people from all walks of life.

More About Tennis Elbow

Most people who are affected tend to use the extensor muscles of their elbows heavily, which results in massive stretching and overuse of the muscles subsequently causing excruciating pain. Tennis elbow is usually caused by repeated straining of the muscles, excessive usage though not hard core strenuous usage or repeated bouts of stress on the elbow joint such as using your desktops mouse for longer periods of time or playing the violin for instance.

Tennis elbow is frequently seen in women aged 40-60 years of age, but is common in all age groups and genders.

Treatment of Tennis Elbow

Though tennis elbow is a severely painful condition, the good news is that it is totally curable, sometimes even without any surgical intervention. Most patients respond to frequent sessions of physiotherapy and complete recovery is achieved within a year. In a small percentage of the population, the pain may become chronic and physical activity and mobility may be significantly reduced. In such cases, the options of intraarticular pain relief medications is still an option. Injecting chemical substances such as Corticosteroids, hyaluronan and botulinum toxin may prove to be beneficial.

If injectables fail to achieve a response in the patient, then the last resort in hopes for a cure is surgical intervention. The need for surgery in tennis elbow should not be overlooked because if the condition remains untreated, chronic pain and disability may pursue rapidly.

Pros of Tennis Elbow Surgery

The Right Treatment

Deciding to go for a surgery is not the most easiest of tasks for any sufferer. While surgical interventions are associated with their own list of complications and side effects, the number one advantage of going ahead with surgery is to help alleviate the symptoms, reduce ongoing pain and stop the progression of the disease before permanent physical handicap ensues.

Success Rate

Tennis elbow surgery has a high success rate. It’s been reported that about 80-90% of people who underwent the surgery experienced better elbow movement and reduction in pain.

Permanent Results

As it’s a surgery, if it’s a success, you will see the results to be permanent. There will be 4-6 months of care, but after that, the movement and strength will be better.

Not Much Complicated

You don’t need a complete bed rest after the surgery. However, reduction of elbow movement is necessary for it to heal. You will be able to go home on the same day as the surgery.

Cons of Tennis Elbow Surgery

As a rule of thumb, the usual risks of surgery include nausea, vomiting, bleeding problems and anesthetic complications, but for the sake of awareness, let’s discuss some of the cons of tennis elbow surgery in close detail:

Nerve Damage

Because of the complex neurovascular connections in the region of the shoulder, nerve conduction damage is a rare but possible complication of this surgery.

Elbow Stiffness

Elbow stiffness is a self-limiting complication of surgery which results in short term inability of stretching the arm. This can usually take up to 3-6 months to heal.

Wrist Weakness

One of the most dreaded and fearful complications of shoulder surgery is wrist weakness. Sometimes the patient can complain of reduced wrist movements and inability to make a fist post-surgery. Fortunately the complication is extremely rare and significantly improves after a few months of physiotherapy.

Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome

Another dreaded complication of surgery is the chronic regional pain syndrome, in which the nerves of the arm become hyper reactive post-surgery, which results in massive stiffness of the arms, decreased movements, swelling and excruciating pain. The condition is known to improve slowly after months of physiotherapy and adequate rest.


Though uncommon in elbow and shoulder surgeries, external infections and wound contamination is still a possibility in most surgical interventions. The infection is usually superficial and can be treated by oral antibiotics and sterile dressing techniques.


Once again, though uncommon in elbow surgeries, bleeding from the sight of surgery is a very common phenomenon. Bleeding episodes are usually not life threatening, and can be stopped by applying pressure bandage. In the event of a massive bleed, artery embolization is an option to be pondered upon.

It’s recommended to communicate any questions and concerns with your orthopedic elbow specialist Woodbridge before undergoing the procedure.