Arthroscopic elbow surgery is the most common procedure performed to treat elbow injuries and degenerative conditions. Using the arthroscopic surgery technique, Dr. Millett is able to operate on the elbow joint using 2-3 tiny incisions rather than a large one. The small holes that are made allow an arthroscope (telescope with a camera) to enter through the incision providing a clear and accurate view of the injury and damaged cartilage and tendons allowing the proper surgical instruments to be placed into the joint. Once inside, these Dr. Millett uses these instruments to remove loose bodies and repair damaged cartilage.
Almost all of the arthroscopic procedures that Dr. Millett performs are done under general anesthesia and are done on an out-patient basis. Since muscles and tendons are not cut there is less post-operative pain, swelling and the patient is able to heal and recover rapidly.
Arthroscopic elbow surgery is used to treat a variety of injuries and conditions associated with the elbow, including:
- Elbow arthritis
- Stiff elbow
- Ligament tears
- Degenerative damage
- Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
- Medical epicondylitis (golfer elbow)
- Ulnar nerve entrapment
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
After Arthroscopic Surgery
Following your arthroscopic elbow surgery you will be allowed to do moderate activity, however, there are also some things that we recommend that you NOT do. It is crucial that you understand the healing process and that you participate in your post-operative recovery so that you do not injure or damage the tissues that were repaired during surgery. Below is a checklist of what to expect.
- It is normal to have swelling and discomfort in the elbow for several days and up to a week following your arthroscopic elbow surgery. Apply ice bags 20-30 minutes at a time, every hour or so. Use a thin cloth to avoid burning the skin. Icing is most important in the first 48 hours, although many people find that continuing it lessens their post-operative pain.
- In the hours following your arthroscopic elbow surgery, please keep the post-operative dressing clean and dry. Leave the bandages in place for at least 2 days. REMOVE YOUR BANDAGES 2 days after your surgery. Cover your incisions with Band-Aids to keep from snagging the sutures on clothes. You may shower then, but try to keep the incisions dry for the first 10-14 days.
- The sutures are absorbable and do not need to be removed.
- After your elbow surgery, we would like to see you back in the office within 10 days. If you don’t have your first post-operative visit scheduled, call our office to make one.
- Start your post-operative rehabilitation/physical therapy right away. Your physical therapy program is key to a successful outcome. It should be started the day after surgery. A separate prescription will outline the protocol.
- Be in the care of a responsible adult.
- Abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages and from smoking.
- You may eat a regular diet, if not nauseated. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.
- Plan to take a few days off work.
Rehabilitation Following Arthroscopic Elbow Surgery
It is important to follow the arthroscopic rehabilitation regime that is set forth by Dr. Millett and by your physical therapist. Arthroscopic surgery is a partnership between the doctor and patient. The results of the surgery are most effective when a post-operative rehabilitation program involving physical therapy and exercises are implemented daily. We have put together some guidelines for patients who have undergone arthroscopic surgery. These guidelines are broken down into various rehabilitation phases. Please refer to the Patient Resources section on this website to view a complete and printable version of the rehabilitation program.