Tennis Elbow Surgery

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by Donnybasbl, Dec 6, 2006.

  1. Donnybasbl

    Donnybasbl New User

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    About 4 weeks ago, I had invasive surgery to treat a case of severe tennis elbow. I was looking for thoughts from anyone who has had the surgery as to the level of pain you experienced during the recovery process.

    I am in my 4th week and i'm still suffering more pain than I thought I would. The pain can radiate from my shoulder and bicep down into my fingers at times and although I have an extremely high pain threshold, it can be quite disconcerting.

    In the past I have had Tommy John surgery, two knee surgeries and surgery to scrape arthritis from my AC joint and the pain of all of those combined was nothing compared to this.

    My surgeon is excellent and while he tells me that they pain will slowly begin to go away, I was looking for feedback from others who actually have had the procedure.

    Any feedback is appreciated.
     
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  2. AJK1

    AJK1 Hall of Fame

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    I've had surgery on my tennis elbow, so i'm curious as to which type of operation did you have? I believe there are two types, one is where they cut you open and lift off the tendon like i had, and there is the keyhole type which is the new trend. I must say i feel sorry for you, as i was in a bandage for two weeks, no pain, and they took the stitches out and i was good after about 3 weeks. My arm has never felt better and my tennis is the best it's ever been. I hope you get some relief soon my friend, as tennis elbow is a curse in my opinion. Cheers.
     
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  3. Donnybasbl

    Donnybasbl New User

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    Thanks. I appreciate the sentiments and I admit that i'm a little concerned with the pain. My doctor is not conservative, by any means, and I was not in a splint or sling. My only precautions were no lifting or gripping. Just light normal activity. Of course the thought running through my mind is that there is still something wrong.

    I did have the invasive procedure where he cut me open, debrided the decaying part of the tendon and did a cleanup of frayed parts of the tendon. The fact that you say you had no pain concerns me a little bit as i'm not only having pain, but at times it is bad enough to distract me from what i'm doing.

    I'm not a tennis player and I really don't have any idea how I developed epicondylitis in my non-dominant arm, but it is what it is and I came here as I figured this would be the best place to find people who have had experience with it.

    I'll wait and see if anyone else responds, but your response concerns me enough to want to place a call to my doctor and make sure everything is as it should be.

    Thanks, again.
     
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  4. Marius_Hancu

    Marius_Hancu G.O.A.T.

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  5. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    I can't remember, AJK1: did you already tell us about your surgery and how it went and what led you to finally go under the knife, and other such details? If not, tell us a story...
     
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  6. AJK1

    AJK1 Hall of Fame

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    Yeah i did, it was in one of Marius's threads i think. I've been a much stronger and better player since the operation, i stuffed around for two years trying to get rid of it, but the operation was a godsend, and the only thing that cured it. Funny thing is, i now have it in my left elbow, and i don't even use that one. Go figure! I think it must be hereditary in me. Anyway, i'm having the operation on my left elbow next year.
     
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  7. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    How long before you could play tennis again?

    And never had any problems with that elbow since? hmm.

    Any downsides you experienced?
     
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  8. AJK1

    AJK1 Hall of Fame

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    I didn't play for six months after, i could have played sooner, but frankly i was too scared to have a hit. But one thing i did was change all the gear i was using to more arm friendly stuff. And the other thing i did was have heaps of lessons to iron out any bad technique. I know now that tennis DID NOT cause my tennis elbow. I think it is a hereditary thing in me as i've got it in my left arm now!! But it's different for everybody of course.
     
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  9. KATO

    KATO New User

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    I had tennis elbow surgery two and half weeks ago. In my case, tendon was completely torn and I needed to have an open surgery to repair it. The pain has not been bad at all--I had to take pain killer only two days. I wore a cast for two weeks and have just started rehab. My elbow feels very stiff and I still cannot fully extend the arm. I do feel pain when I try to extend or bend my elbow.
     
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  10. Donnybasbl

    Donnybasbl New User

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    Thanks for the feedback Kato. I'm growing more concerned as each day goes by because there has been no improvement in the pain over the past two weeks. It's not debilitating pain all the time, but it's enough to make waking up in the morning extremely uncomfortable.

    I have a follow up appointment with my doctor next week and hopefully he'll be able to shed some light on this.

    I'm wondering if the fact that my arm was not immobilized allowed me to use it more than I should have which is slowing down the healing process.
     
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  11. tc60045

    tc60045 Guest

    Guys,

    Thanks for the feedback on recovery time -- I, too, am about to get surgery. 95% tear to my tendon so I don't have an option here. Sounds like, except for OP, most of you have recovered promptly.

    I'm a hard-hitting 4.5 who plays with "players racquets" proudly...vanity being what it is, I'm willing to endure a lot to keep the youth in my game. So hearing that others are playing as well or better than ever is encouraging.

    TC
     
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  12. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Are you saying your elbow was examined somehow and it was determined that 95 percent of the tendon is torn? And so surgery is the only option?

    Is it really this cut and dry? You can get an MRI or whatever that will reveal the exact (more or less) extent of your problem and thus whether surgery is required to heal it? If so, this would save a few steps for a lot of us -- i.e., playing around with strings and rackets and ice and technique and rest and exercises and on and on might be fruitless, and maybe those of who have significant tears but don't realize it are wasting our time and prolonging our agony and have no hope of recovery, ever, unless we have surgery?

    Discuss.
     
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  13. Donnybasbl

    Donnybasbl New User

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    I received two opinions on my elbow by 2 very respected orthopedic surgeons in NYC. I'm not sure what % tear there was in my elbow, but both surgeons said that because the MRI did show a significant tear and because therapy and 2 cortisone injections only provided temporary relief, surgery was the only course of treatment.
     
    #13
  14. acer

    acer Rookie

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    AJK1

    Of the surgery types you explained, what type of surgery did you have? I am curious if it differed from Donnybasbl.

    Acer
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2007
    #14
  15. Donnybasbl

    Donnybasbl New User

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    By the way, as a follow up, the really bad pain subsided not long after I posted on 12/11. By the time I had gone back to my doctor the next week, the pain was mainly localized in the joint, which is what I would expect.

    His theory is that as a person of my age who has two very young children, and a lot to do, I probably overused my arm a bit, which was causing the radiating pain. He decided not to immobilize my arm because I wasn't rehabbing to get back to a specific activity, so as long as I didn't grip or lift anything heavy, I would be fine and wouldn't have the burden of an immobilized arm.

    I had been doing stretching and grip strengthening since the middle of December and just started reverse wrist dumbell curls. I have a lot of soreness, right now, but that is part of the recovery process as I did not have full use of my arm for at least 60 days prior to my surgery, due to the pain of the torn tendon.
     
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  16. mlh7933

    mlh7933 Guest

    I had tennis elbow surgery last Halloween. They detached the tendon and cleaned out the "diseased tissue". The doctor said with as much scar tissue I had in there that no therapy would have helped. Playing golf is what caused my elbow to get so bad.. I did play for the first time since my surgery this last Sat. My elbow is sore from the golfing, but I have been icing it and doing massage therapy as well. I have had elbow problems for over 15 years and it got so bad that the cortisone shots didnt help much. That was when I went to the ortho doc for help..

    Mike
     
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  17. Donnybasbl

    Donnybasbl New User

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    Mike
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Unfortunately, because of a new job and an incredibly hectic past 3 months, I have not been as diligent in my rehab as I have with past surgeries. The area around my elbow is still stiff and sore and the level of pain changes from day to day.
    My sport was baseball and because of an arthritic knee, I had to give is up last season. My goal now is to play a lot more golf, so that is what I will be working toward in getting my elbow healthy again.

    Don
     
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  18. mlh7933

    mlh7933 Guest

    Don, my elbow is sore most of the time, but hitting the golfball will do that. I have been trying to ice and do ASTYM type therapy every nite. I also have one of those handheld ultrasound units on its way. I will do everything I can to get my elbow feeling better. I didnt go thru the surgery to have it keep hurting. good luck with your elbow..

    MIke
     
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  19. Wazzu82

    Wazzu82 New User

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    Thanks everyone for the informative link. Just over a year ago I injured my elbow, and after cortisone shots, PT rest, using the arm band....I am having surgery next Friday.
    What got me to the point of surgery, was not just the constant annoying aches, and lack of sleep. The pain began to move to the interior forearm, and I get shooting numbness (numbness not quite right, as that connotes no pain) down my arm, akin to a TENS unit at full strength from shoulder to fingers... I have had four shoulder surgeries, (rotator, Labrum and acromion) so am well aware of the pain of surgery and rehab. My Dr is very good, and advised me it would be 12 weeks at best before I'm back to golf etc. Now reading these posts, I see some people are 6 months out! That was about the shoulder rehab, but that is a much more evasive surgery and recovery... I'm not sure I could make it through the season without golf...(sorry Tennis players!)
    Please tell me I'll be golfing again by July!!!
    Thanks,
    T
     
    #19
  20. markwillplay

    markwillplay Professional

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    I had the orthoscopic one and it took a good while for me to stop experiencing pain. I went through physical therapy for a while. Eventually, it tapered off and was good to go. I have had a bit of a resurgance of it over the past couple of years but very managable. Give it time..I wanted to kill my orhto 4 weeks after I had mine. I was patient and it did taper off.
     
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  21. Wazzu82

    Wazzu82 New User

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    Well made it through the surgery. They did an open release, removed damaged tendon and put an anchor to secure thr good stuff. No too bad. Went off meds except at night to sleep, Sunday. Dr expects me to playing golf in 12 weeks. Maybe not 18, but golf! In the splint until the 21st, then a cast for another 10. As long as I don't use the arm at all. no pain... Just difficult to do everything lefty!
    T
     
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  22. Lesleyann

    Lesleyann New User

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    Tennis elbow operation, recovery

    Hi guys. I have just joined T w as I have recently had a lateral epycondilitus operation and I am trying to get some thoughts and feedback. I have had T E pain for over 2 years in my left elbow from playing golf. I have had 4 cortisone injections, which all gave me pain relief for just 3 months at a time. So I had the surgery, exactly 9 weeks ago today. I still am in pain and can,t play golf yet. It is very worrying, which is why I am posting this. Can you all tell me how long it was before you were able to play golf/ tennis again, and how long was it before the pain disappeared, if it did!? My surgeon has assured me that it will all be fine soon!
     
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  23. rocky b

    rocky b Guest

    I had surgery last april I still have some pain. If I quit tennis my arm would be fine. It took 4 months before I could hit and 6 to play competitive tennis. I just hit the 1 year mark and I am not happy with the results. I will go back in at the end of the summer and do it again. I wish I never fell in love with this sport
     
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  24. widmerpool

    widmerpool Rookie

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    topaz

    I had golfer's elbow.

    Had Topaz Procedure which really has no downside. They just flip up your skin and "irrigate" your sick tendon to restore blood-flow.

    My doctor won't do regular surgery anymore because of the risks.

    I would recommend it over going in there and cutting up your arm.

    It cured my golfer's elbow (which is essentially no different than tennis elbow) and it takes all of 20min.
     
    #24
  25. hifi heretic

    hifi heretic Rookie

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    I've had TE surgery on both of my arms; "open" on my left, and "arthroscopic" on my right. My left arm took nearly a year to recover, and my right about six months. Not sure why my elbows gave me such trouble but possible contributing factors, according to both surgeons, include: having naturally wiry/ muscular forearms leading to constant pulling on the tendon attachments; years of heavy weight-lifting then abruptly stopping; years of typing on a laptop with poor arm-postioning/posture; hitting loads of golf balls (with a rather upright swing) off of a hard plastic mat; finally, as my left arm was healing from surgery, I resumed playing tennis after a 10 year hiatus from the sport. It took about 1 year of tennis before my right arm hurt so badly that I couldn't sleep.

    I'm now able to play without pain so long as I don't abruptly ramp up my hours/week. When I do - for ex., when playing in a USTA tournament - my right elbow will get sore.
     
    #25
  26. markwillplay

    markwillplay Professional

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    I probably should elaborate a little more for feedback purposes. My arthroscopic surgery was very successful. It just took a while to recover. I was 27 years old and was not even playing tennis really...had nothing to do with it. Just overuse from working out, working in construction and probably not listening to my body (I am 41 now so trying to remember). Anyway, when I went through physical therapy after the surgery, it started to subside but I was inded frustrated for weeks after the surgery because i thought i should recover faster. Had the same pain after as before, but, that was natural and eventually, the cleaned out elbow started to heal itself. Years later, I got into tennis again and could sort of agrivate it but again....playing with softer stick and strings, listening to my elbows, I could manage it and it would go away if it flared up. I eventually stopped worrying so much about it and continues a sensable workout that strengthened the forarm and did not "overwhelm it" for long periods of time.

    I now work out regularly and am in great shape. 41, can do probably 30 pullups from a dead hang, 5' 11" 170. Having said that, I am the kind of person who can over do real quick. It has cost me a hip (bad genes and crazy tennis workout regimen over the years ran my right one into the ground). I can tell you this from what I know, people like me do not listen to their bodies enough. I have learned the hard way. Now, I rarely overtrain and when I feel like I am and things start to hurt, I rest!!!!!. This is the hardest lesson I have learned over the years and one I see more and more people my age who were good athletes when they were younger running into. Unfortunately, like the above poster, I think lots of joints get damaged when we are younger and don't necessarily feel the effects right away. Every one is different and your elbow has only so many swings in it per day or week, knees have only so many miles on them on hard courts or pavement, hips have only so many violent turns, etc..you get the point. Listen to your body and learn everything you can about training and playing smart..no matter what your age is.... hell, look at the young pro's. Their physio's are making money for helping them to "prevent" injury and in tennis, that ain't easy to do if you play at a level that is very competitive. I am convinced that for most people, it is a tougher sport than most for repetative use injuries.

    I agree with the poster above too about typing and little things like that....they can really affect the elbows more than you think. I remember years after my surgery I took a sales job and used a cell phone constantly and typed a lot when I wasn't used to it. Drove my elbows crazy. Now, like the above poster, when my elbows get soar, I don't panic about it because I know it will subside with a little rest...a lot of it for a long time was mental I think because I was sooo fearful of tendonitis after my surgery (went through over a year of hell before it). Just try to be patient...your body wants to heal itself...give it a chance to.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
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  27. stsfan

    stsfan New User

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    I feel your pain, LesleyAnn (both physically and mentally). I had surgery almost 8 weeks ago and am not where I expected. That said, gotta be patient and put it in perspective. If you were like me, things were really bad prior to surgery. This had been going on for almost 2 years, with failed PT, 4 steroid injections, and of course rest. I progressed through three stages, the first being pain with significant activity (for me not tennis, but my job, weights, and mountain climbing), the second being pain with activities of daily living (lifting remote, cup of coffee), third being aching pain all day and night that woke me up.

    If you let it get as bad as I did, it's no suprise that it will take a long time to heal even with surgery. The body wants to heal but its a slow process. If it wasn't this bad, take this as a helpful warning as you never want it to ... a far different thing to not be able to sleep or function during the day than not being able to play tennis or golf. Let your body heal, however long it may take.

    As an aside, while I am not an orthopod, I am a surgeon. And I suspect that, many times, when counseling patients on expected recovery time we tend to give them the best case or average (the left/center of the bell shaped curve). So when you fall to the right, while not abnormal, it tends to send your mind into a world of worry. Be patient. That's about all we have control over. But, as much as I hate to say it, forget about golf for the moment. A lost season of golf is nothing compared to a life of elbow pain.
     
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