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Although called tennis elbow, you may get this injury and not even have played tennis. It can happen after the repeated strain of gripping or twisting your hand or wrist.

Symptoms of tennis elbow include pain and tenderness, usually on the outer side of your elbow. This is caused by the tendons from your forearm muscle becoming inflamed or irritated. You may experience pain on gripping small objects (for example when writing), and when lifting, bending or twisting the arm. While painful, there are no long-term effects.

Treatment includes rest and support, medication (anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain) and physiotherapy.

Although surgery is uncommon it is an option if the condition persists.

What happens during tennis elbow release?

Tennis elbow release is usually performed under general or increasingly under local anaesthetic. The procedure usually takes 15-30 minutes.

Your surgeon will make an incision (cut) along your arm near your elbow. They will inspect the point where your tendon attaches to bone. The method your consultant uses to release the area will depend on your own situation and may include:

  • Cutting (releasing) the tendon
  • Repairing or reattaching any tears in the tendon
  • Removing tissue or bone spurs (lumps)

Your wound will be closed using stitches or staples and be covered by a dressing. Your arm will be in a sling. We will give you pain relief medication. Be sure and let a member of our healthcare team know if you are in any discomfort.

Tennis elbow release is usually performed as a day case meaning you can go home the day of your procedure.

Going home after tennis elbow release

You will not be able to drive for at least one week. Please arrange for someone to drive you home following your surgery.

Continue to take any pain relief medication as long as you need it. Keep your dressing and wound clean and dry for 3-5 days. In 10-14 days you may need to return to have your stitches or staples removed. If your wound is dry and completely healed at that time you can then start taking baths.

We will arrange for you to have physiotherapy. This is a very important part of your recovery. Depending on the extent of your surgery it may take up to 4-6 months before you can return to any sport activities.

You should discuss any return to work with your consultant.

Most patients return to normal activities following tennis elbow release. With any surgery there can be complications including:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Infection
  • Reaction to anaesthetic

Specific complications of tennis elbow release:

  • Nerve damage
  • Stiffness
  • No change in symptoms
  • Arthritis
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Related free events

Meet our Experts on Shoulder and Elbow Surgery

Thursday 26 March 2020

Plymouth Hospital

Mr Huw David

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