What Should I Expect from Tennis Elbow Surgery?

Chronic tennis elbow pain may require surgery.
A sling may be required after tennis elbow surgery.
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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2014
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If you are a candidate for tennis elbow surgery, it means you have undergone other types of treatment that have not cured or alleviated the pain associated with the condition. If the pain you are feeling is chronic and severe enough to adversely affect daily life, a doctor will recommended surgery to treat the problem. You should expect an extended recovery time after surgery for tennis elbow, and you should also be ready for the possibility of infection, reduced range of motion, and weakness as a result of the surgery.

While tennis elbow surgery is not an exceptionally invasive surgery, it still requires an incision, and damage to tissue inside the elbow is to be expected. This means you will feel some pain after surgery for tennis elbow; doctors will often prescribe painkilling medications and, in some cases, anti-inflammatory medications. You will be responsible for keeping the wound dressed, and you will need to keep this dressing dry and clean throughout the healing process. If the dressing becomes wet or dirty, it should be changed immediately to prevent infection and other complications that can slow healing.


You should expect the affected arm to be immobilized for several weeks after the surgery. Most patients make a full recovery within six to eight weeks, though for some, the healing process may take longer. You may be required to wear a sling to support the arm, and the use of that arm should be limited for the duration of the healing process. Once healing has occurred, you should expect to take part in physical therapy to restore strength and mobility to the affected arm, which will have lost strength during the recovery period.

It is important to be realistic about your expectations for tennis elbow surgery. Many patients still experience pain after the surgery and recovery time, so you should be prepared for this possibility. It is likely that you will lose some mobility after the surgery, and you may lose strength in that arm. Some mobility and strength may be regained, but it is not uncommon for a person to lose mobility or strength permanently to some degree after tennis elbow surgery. Nerve damage may also occur as a result of the surgery, leading to tingling, numbness, or loss of mobility in the arm. If these conditions become problematic, a follow up surgery may be necessary.


Discuss this Article

Post 3
I agree with Sporkasia. Surgery should be avoided unless the pain is too much or your mobility is greatly suffering. Most tennis players get some degree of tennis elbow at one time or another.

There are also tennis elbow exercises that can help prevent the condition.

Post 2
Animandel - Tennis elbow is caused by small tears in your tendons, and normally a period of rest is enough to allow the body to heal itself. However, you should also try icing the area and maybe get a splint for your wrist and elbow or a tennis elbow brace.

Doctors sometimes suggest taking anti-inflammatory drugs, so you might want to give that a try. Surgery should be a last resort, used in the most severe cases only.

Post 1

The elbow pain I get after playing tennis regularly can be so bad that I can't bear to move my arm. However, the discomfort doesn't usually last for more than a few days at a time if I take a break from tennis and rest my arm. Surgery seems like a drastic step for me.

Has anyone on here had the surgery? How did it turn out?

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