Tennis elbow, also known as lateral epicondylitis, is an elbow injury that occurs as a result of overuse, most commonly from playing tennis. The pain associated with this condition affects the lateral epicondyle, the area where the forearms’ tendons connect with the bony outer portion of the elbow. While tennis elbow typically affects adults aged 30 to 50, anyone who continually stresses their wrists is at a higher risk of developing this condition.
In many cases, tennis elbow heals on its own within two years. Initial pain can often be managed with rest, ice and over-the-counter painkillers. Cases that don’t respond to the aforementioned measures may require additional treatment, in the form of exercises, orthotics, or corticosteroids. Severe, persistent cases of tennis elbow may require surgery; however, surgery is only necessary for about ten percent of those suffering from tennis elbow. Your doctor will develop a customized treatment plan based on your individual condition.
Arthritis is of the elbow is a degenerative disease characterized as a progressive degradation of the joint, caused by trauma, overuse, genetic predisposition, and various external stresses that impact the elbow over time.
The major symptoms of arthritis are pain and swelling, which may worsen with time or movement. Diagnosis of osteoarthritis is usually done by clinical examination and can be confirmed through X-ray if needed.
Treatments commonly include various pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy. Life changes and weight loss can also be helpful in treating osteoarthritis, as the disease is more prevalent in patients who are overweight. There are many other alternative treatments, but in severe cases joint replacement surgery may be required. Joint replacement surgery is usually reserved for older patients and may offer patients only a limited range of motion after surgery, although pain relief is immediate and long-lasting.
Arthroscopy is a type of surgery that uses anarthroscope (thin fiber optic camera) to visualize the area to be operated on, as well as multiple small portals through which the surgeon’s tools are manipulated. This procedure offers patients a relatively shorter recovery time as opposed to conventional “open” surgery. Much less soft tissue is injured during the operation, leaving less room for post-surgery complications.
Elbow arthroscopy is generally used for simple manipulations of the joint. For instance, a patient with a compound fracture may have multiple fragments of the bone removed through arthroscopic surgery, but a replacement prosthetic most likely would not fit through a portal. It is also very useful for arthritis as tools capable of debriding can be inserted and used to smooth out the problematic bone surfaces in a minimally invasive manner.
The arthroscopic procedures are commonly used to confirm and examine abnormalities occurring in patients. This diagnostic use is helpful in ensuring that the patient will be recovering in the shortest amount of time possible.
However, arthroscopy is not nearly as prevalent in elbow surgery as it is in other joint specialties such as the knee. This is because the small structure of the joint requires very specialized training so the surgeon does not to disturb the multiple nerves crossing the joint. This forms an inherent risk in any procedure in the elbow, but more so in arthroscopy due to its nature of camera insertion.
For more information on problems of the elbow and the treatments we provide, please call the office nearest you.