Do I really need elbow surgery?

If an injury or painful condition in your elbow doesn't get better with treatments such as rest, activity modification, injections, and physical therapy, you may be a candidate for elbow surgery. Although Coastal Ortho orthopedic surgeons are able to treat most elbow problems without surgery, it still sometimes turns out to be the smartest option.

The good news is that many procedures can be done with an arthroscope, which is a small camera inserted into the elbow through a small incision. Other small incisions are made in the area to insert surgical instruments. Because there is less cutting due to the smaller instruments, recovery is faster, there is less bruising, bleeding, and swelling, and the procedure itself is often faster than traditional open surgeries. Some of the most common elbow arthroscopy procedures treat:

  • osteoarthritis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • tennis elbow
  • range of motion problems
  • pain caused by bone fragments or loose cartilage

When elbow arthroscopy cannot be performed, an open procedure may be recommended. Some conditions that usually require open surgery are:

  • multiple or complex fractures
  • golfer's elbow
  • elbow joint replacement
  • damage to collateral ligaments (on the sides of the elbow joint)

Multi-faceted elbow problems may be treated with both arthroscopy and open surgery for the different issues.

A board certified, experienced orthopedic doctor who specializes in the elbow is the best resource for successful elbow treatment. Seeing a doctor who wants to help you meet your sports and lifestyle goals is key to any orthopedic treatment plan. Only you and your doctor can decide what's best for you.