Most cases of
tennis elbow are treated without surgery. Less than 5 out of 100 cases
require surgery.2 You and your doctor might consider
surgery if several months of
tendon rest and rehabilitation (rehab) haven't stopped the pain or returned
the flexibility and strength to your forearm.
- Your elbow is still sore and painful after more
than 6 to 12 months of tendon rest and rehab.
- Your doctor has ruled
out other possible causes of elbow pain, such as nerve problems, arthritis,
muscle injury, or injury to another tendon.
- Your corticosteroid
shots have given good short-term pain relief, but the pain has
- You can't do normal daily activities and job tasks
because of elbow pain.
During surgery, a doctor will most likely cut (release) the
tendon, remove damaged tissue from the tendon, or both. In some cases, tendon
tears can be repaired.
After surgery, rehab is needed to restore
flexibility and strength in the forearm.
- Tennis Elbow: Should I Have Surgery?
Surgery for tennis elbow involves
cutting (releasing) the tendon and removing damaged tissue from the tendon. In
some cases, tendon tears are repairable (reattached) if the repair can be done
without overtightening the tendon. These procedures can be done both
arthroscopically and through a larger incision (open
surgery) or with a combination of the two techniques.
What to think about
There are different approaches
to surgery for tennis elbow, such as where to enter the elbow and what type of
reconstruction or repair on the tendon is done. Surgical technique is
determined by the type, location, and severity of the injury and by the
doctor's preference and experience.
There is no strong medical
research that shows that one type of surgery is better than another or that
surgery is better than other treatment.4
The success of surgery depends in large part on the amount of time and
effort you put into a rehab program.