Has anyone had elbow surgery?

BumElbow

New User
About a decade ago, I was suffering from chronic tennis elbow and had an MRI that showed a partial tear; I continue to have problems from it. Now, I also have developed chronic golfer's elbow on the same arm. I am considering surgery and saw a specialist last week. I think it's called Tommy John surgery. Has anyone had this surgery? If so, could you please describe the length of the healing process and let me know if you regained full use of your arm? Many thanks!
 

ollinger

G.O.A.T.
Tommy John surgery involves replacement of a damaged ligament; tennis elbow involves damage to a tendon, so it seems unlikely you're a candidate for the Tommy John procedure. Recovery from that operation can take a year or more.
 

Mongolmike

Hall of Fame
I've had bone spurs removed from my elbow. Went prety well, never regained full rom, but that's differentthan what you are dealing with. Good luck.
 

BumElbow

New User
Tommy John surgery involves replacement of a damaged ligament; tennis elbow involves damage to a tendon, so it seems unlikely you're a candidate for the Tommy John procedure. Recovery from that operation can take a year or more.
It appears that I have damage to both the ligament and the tendon. I will have an MRI to confirm it this week. The surgeon said that he could repair both at the same time though it would require a longer recovery period meaning the elbow would have to remain immobile for at least 3 weeks rather than 10 days to 2 weeks. It's my dominant arm so I am concerned about living with 1 arm in use for a full month especially as I live alone. I have no idea if I will want to continue playing tennis afterwards for fear of reinjury. I have an injury prone body. It would be nice to be able to lift moderate weights again though.
 

LOBALOT

Professional
I've had bone spurs removed from my elbow. Went prety well, never regained full rom, but that's differentthan what you are dealing with. Good luck.
Yes, I too have had bone spurs removed from my right elbow. It actually went well and my elbow is back to pre-injury.

I also fractured my wrist in 3 spots and tore my TFC hitting a forehand about 9 years ago. I had 3 surgeries in the span of 2 years. My wrist is not the same. I cannot pronate my wrist making it impossible to hit a decent forehand anymore and I still have pain after I play just not to the extent it was when it was injured. I just deal with the pain and crapy play just for the social aspects of being out there playing with friends.
 

Rubens

Hall of Fame
Gotta love those names that are used in orthopedics, e.g. Tommy John, named after the pitcher.

My favorite has to be the term they use to designate a gap between these two wrist bones:


They call it the David Letterman sign, or the Madonna sign. Because it looks like the gap between their front teeth. Actual medical terms.
 

LOBALOT

Professional
Gotta love those names that are used in orthopedics, e.g. Tommy John, named after the pitcher.

My favorite has to be the term they use to designate a gap between these two wrist bones:


They call it the David Letterman sign, or the Madonna sign. Because it looks like the gap between their front teeth. Actual medical terms.
I don't think mine looks like that anymore!!!! I think I have a picture of the x-ray someplace.
 

yossarian

Semi-Pro
Gotta love those names that are used in orthopedics, e.g. Tommy John, named after the pitcher.

My favorite has to be the term they use to designate a gap between these two wrist bones:


They call it the David Letterman sign, or the Madonna sign. Because it looks like the gap between their front teeth. Actual medical terms.
I learned it as the Terry Thomas sign
 

badmice2

Semi-Pro
Yes, I too have had bone spurs removed from my right elbow. It actually went well and my elbow is back to pre-injury.

I also fractured my wrist in 3 spots and tore my TFC hitting a forehand about 9 years ago. I had 3 surgeries in the span of 2 years. My wrist is not the same. I cannot pronate my wrist making it impossible to hit a decent forehand anymore and I still have pain after I play just not to the extent it was when it was injured. I just deal with the pain and crapy play just for the social aspects of being out there playing with friends.
How long did it take you to recover and back on the court? I’m told I need it but should only consider if it affects my way of life.
 
It appears that I have damage to both the ligament and the tendon. I will have an MRI to confirm it this week. The surgeon said that he could repair both at the same time though it would require a longer recovery period meaning the elbow would have to remain immobile for at least 3 weeks rather than 10 days to 2 weeks. It's my dominant arm so I am concerned about living with 1 arm in use for a full month especially as I live alone. I have no idea if I will want to continue playing tennis afterwards for fear of reinjury. I have an injury prone body. It would be nice to be able to lift moderate weights again though.
Do you know what caused the injury? If it was bad form [excessive tension on grip, using your arm to do all of the work rather than engaging the large muscles, etc], surgery will just temporarily fix the problem.
 

LOBALOT

Professional
How long did it take you to recover and back on the court? I’m told I need it but should only consider if it affects my way of life.
The elbow surgery was not bad. I had it done at the same time as my wrist so it is hard to say whether the recovery time was for the wrist or the elbow. I was in a cast for 4 months or so. I then rested it for 2 months and then had PT for 4 months. At this point it had been over a year since I played. I had few issues with my elbow. However, I tried to play tennis and had very bad wrist pain. I tried to gut my way through it thinking it was the natural course of things but the wrist did not get better.

I then had arthroscopic surgery on my wrist to remove bone fragments. I went through another round of rest and PT and set out to play only to have the same pain.

I then had a third surgery to remove a piece of bone about the size of a pencil eraser from the outside of my wrist. More rest and PT.

This time I had pain but it was less than it was so I decided to just deal with it. All in all it was about 4 years before I was back playing. I now have pain every now and then when I hit a forehand and it is achy after I play but all in all I am out there playing.

I play with a pretty soft racquet (Prince O3 white) and a gut/cream hybrid at 53/47. I am thinking about trying the Prince Textreme Tour 100 (310) as the lack of feel and mass with my current racquet is starting to bug me.

I would say in general I would only have surgery as a last resort.
 

HouTex

Rookie
You should search some older threads on TE. There were several threads that included long discussions with posters that had TE surgery. Some of the surgeries were successful and others were not. After a 20 month layoff from tennis and PT and other treatments I finally beat my TE. Two surgeons gave me similar odds that TE surgery had about a 10-15% failure rate. And there was a chance I would never be able to play tennis again if it went very poorly. Some people are ok with those odds but I was not.
 

BumElbow

New User
I will have an MRI this Friday. I do tend to hold the racquet tightly even though I use a large grip size; I had been trying to change that but my muscle memory just squeezes tightly. I also like dead feeling strings which is a problem; can't control the ball with multifilament strings. Currently, I string my frames in the 50-55 lbs. range and I play okay. The tennis elbow damage is old and I was dealing with it by using flexible frames with large head sizes and as large a grip size available in each frame. Recently, I was hitting against the wall using a Head Graphene Touch Radical S and tried using a forehand technique that I'd seen several pros use. Afterwards, I had golfer's elbow that will not subside. So, the real problem now is golfer's elbow. Hopefully, the MRI will show the extent of the damage. I cannot even lift weights to strengthen the arm / elbow as that makes it worse. I was not lifting heavy weights. I have always had an injury prone body and have to work hard to keep up with other players. Lately, I had been playing down so that I would not face hard hitting opponents but the people who scheduled the matches kept trying to move me up because I was steady and had good form. But, like I said, physically I cannot handle that pace of shot. I do not know if I will play tennis again even if I have surgery. If I do, I am considering playing with a loosely strung frame about 45-47 lbs. with a soft poly. I will probably use a 98 to 100 sq. inch frame which I find less taxing to swing with a dense string pattern to help with control. I may give up trying to hit with topspin and just hit flat or with slice. Topspin is really what caused the damage. Thank-you everyone for your thoughtful comments. I will keep you informed.
 
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Lately, I had been playing down so that I would not face hard hitting opponents but the people who scheduled the matches kept trying to move me up because I was steady and had good form. But, like I said, physically I cannot handle that pace of shot.
Great: so in addition to your elbow issues, now you'll have people complaining that you're sandbagging and that you're not really injured. Ignore them and do what's right for Mr. Elbow.
 

BumElbow

New User
I start physical therapy on Wednesday morning. The specialist discussed surgery with me. The golfer's elbow pain has lessened in the past few months but I get pain just swinging a racquet without hitting a ball. The MRI did not show a lot of damage. The surgeon said that the real issue is quality of life. I could live a limited life and not have the surgery. Or, I could try to be active again by having the surgery. After surgery, I will have to be in a cast for about 3 months; the cast will not let me bend my wrist or elbow. That's a long time without full use of my dominant arm! However, since I am working from home during the pandemic, now may be the best time to have the surgery. I will see what the PT office has to say first. If it will heal on its own then I may try to go that route but make sure that the arm is strengthened before returning to tennis. I had been trying large racquets and still may invest in a Prince O3 Legacy 120. Play would be limited to other senior citizens, mostly doubles. Another option would be hitting 2-handed forehands (and, probably, backhands too). Serves would be limited to slice. Also, I am considering going in the opposite direction with racquets because I have had mixed results with extended length frames - they are a lot to swing. I bought a Head MicroGel Radical midplus (98 sq. inches with a dense string pattern) and will try stringing that very loose with a 17 gauge poly - about 43-44 lbs. It may be a smaller racquet BUT the sweetspot will be larger with the loose strings and it will be less cumbersome/taxing to swing; I am concerned about spin generation though because I will need some to control the ball. Here goes nothing!
 

LOBALOT

Professional
I start physical therapy on Wednesday morning. The specialist discussed surgery with me. The golfer's elbow pain has lessened in the past few months but I get pain just swinging a racquet without hitting a ball. The MRI did not show a lot of damage. The surgeon said that the real issue is quality of life. I could live a limited life and not have the surgery. Or, I could try to be active again by having the surgery. After surgery, I will have to be in a cast for about 3 months; the cast will not let me bend my wrist or elbow. That's a long time without full use of my dominant arm! However, since I am working from home during the pandemic, now may be the best time to have the surgery. I will see what the PT office has to say first. If it will heal on its own then I may try to go that route but make sure that the arm is strengthened before returning to tennis. I had been trying large racquets and still may invest in a Prince O3 Legacy 120. Play would be limited to other senior citizens, mostly doubles. Another option would be hitting 2-handed forehands (and, probably, backhands too). Serves would be limited to slice. Also, I am considering going in the opposite direction with racquets because I have had mixed results with extended length frames - they are a lot to swing. I bought a Head MicroGel Radical midplus (98 sq. inches with a dense string pattern) and will try stringing that very loose with a 17 gauge poly - about 43-44 lbs. It may be a smaller racquet BUT the sweetspot will be larger with the loose strings and it will be less cumbersome/taxing to swing; I am concerned about spin generation though because I will need some to control the ball. Here goes nothing!
I would get a second opinion from a ortho guy whose expertise is the elbow. I really haven't heard much about surgeries for tennis elbow. I am no expert though and that is why if it were me I would be seeking a lot of opinions before having surgery of any kind.
 

cortado

Rookie
I start physical therapy on Wednesday morning. The specialist discussed surgery with me. The golfer's elbow pain has lessened in the past few months but I get pain just swinging a racquet without hitting a ball. The MRI did not show a lot of damage. The surgeon said that the real issue is quality of life. I could live a limited life and not have the surgery. Or, I could try to be active again by having the surgery. After surgery, I will have to be in a cast for about 3 months; the cast will not let me bend my wrist or elbow. That's a long time without full use of my dominant arm! However, since I am working from home during the pandemic, now may be the best time to have the surgery. I will see what the PT office has to say first. If it will heal on its own then I may try to go that route but make sure that the arm is strengthened before returning to tennis. I had been trying large racquets and still may invest in a Prince O3 Legacy 120. Play would be limited to other senior citizens, mostly doubles. Another option would be hitting 2-handed forehands (and, probably, backhands too). Serves would be limited to slice. Also, I am considering going in the opposite direction with racquets because I have had mixed results with extended length frames - they are a lot to swing. I bought a Head MicroGel Radical midplus (98 sq. inches with a dense string pattern) and will try stringing that very loose with a 17 gauge poly - about 43-44 lbs. It may be a smaller racquet BUT the sweetspot will be larger with the loose strings and it will be less cumbersome/taxing to swing; I am concerned about spin generation though because I will need some to control the ball. Here goes nothing!
Something to consider is, does the surgery resolve the problem, or is it the strict rest of the affected structures caused by the 3 months in a cast?
I follow some orthopaedic surgeons on twitter and they appear to be against tennis elbow surgery. Their view was that tennis elbow is something that affects almost all humans eventually, even if they don't play tennis, and that will resolve by itself if given enough time.
 

BumElbow

New User
Something to consider is, does the surgery resolve the problem, or is it the strict rest of the affected structures caused by the 3 months in a cast?
I follow some orthopaedic surgeons on twitter and they appear to be against tennis elbow surgery. Their view was that tennis elbow is something that affects almost all humans eventually, even if they don't play tennis, and that will resolve by itself if given enough time.
I have both golfer's elbow and tennis elbow. The current problem is golfer's elbow. I rested the elbow for 2 months and it did not heal. Even washing my face had some pain. Recently it has lessened but it is still painful to swing a tennis racquet without hitting a ball. The surgery would repair both the partially torn tendon causing the chronic tennis elbow (it had bothered me last about 6 months ago after playing tennis with better players who hit the ball hard) and the damaged ligament from golfer's elbow. To alleviate the tennis elbow, I have switched to a larger, more flexible racquet that is not strung very tight. I developed the golfer's elbow hitting tennis balls against a wall. I had been trying a new forehand technique and probably holding the racquet handle too tightly. I had been hitting with a Head Graphene Touch Radical S strung with syngut @ 55 lbs.; the frame has an RA of 61 and while I can feel some flex, the frame always feels crisp as if the RA is really higher. Part of the problem is that I tend to hit the ball on the rise. If the elbow heals either with or without surgery, and if I resume playing, then there will be further modifications to my grips and my game including using even looser strings. I will wait to see what the physical therapist has to say and if the therapy is successful. At the moment, the situation is wait and see what happens. In addition to not playing tennis, I am also unable to lift weights - even light weights - without inflaming the golfer's elbow. My goal is to be able to resume at least one of those activities.
 

BumElbow

New User
I would get a second opinion from a ortho guy whose expertise is the elbow. I really haven't heard much about surgeries for tennis elbow. I am no expert though and that is why if it were me I would be seeking a lot of opinions before having surgery of any kind.
Thanks for your concern. The surgeon is one of the best in the business. When I visited his office, the walls were covered with the photos of athletes and musicians who have been his clients including professional hockey players. And, he is affiliated with one of the top hospitals in NYC. Originally, I was so tired of being injured all the time that surgery was all that I would consider. But the surgeon suggested either PT or a Cortisone shot first and I consulted with my primary care physician who agreed. I will update this thread after my PT appointment on Wednesday.
 

LOBALOT

Professional
Thanks for your concern. The surgeon is one of the best in the business. When I visited his office, the walls were covered with the photos of athletes and musicians who have been his clients including professional hockey players. And, he is affiliated with one of the top hospitals in NYC. Originally, I was so tired of being injured all the time that surgery was all that I would consider. But the surgeon suggested either PT or a Cortisone shot first and I consulted with my primary care physician who agreed. I will update this thread after my PT appointment on Wednesday.
Good Luck! Hopefully, you will be out on the court soon!
 
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