Elbow Surgery for Arm Strength

elbow surgery

More and more athletes, both amateur and professional are turning to elbow surgery to improve or restore elbow strength and stability. This section will review the more common reasons for elbow surgery, the different types of elbow surgery, and what improvements one might reasonably expect following such surgeries.

Among amateur sportsmen and sportswoman, the most common type of elbow injury arises from repetitive stress to the tendons and ligaments that give stability to the elbow joint. Although many professional athletes will experience these same types of repetitive stress injuries, the fact that many professional sportsmen are involved in violent contact sports means that direct trauma to the elbow leads to a greater incidence of direct, traumatic, elbow injury in that group. Direct injuries will require surgical repair more often than stress injuries. The more commonly-encountered elbow injuries, and their surgical treatments, are described below.

Tennis Elbow

Due to the mechanics of the arms during the game of tennis, Tennis Elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, in medical terminology, is the term used to describe pain that typically occurs on the outside (lateral) surface of the elbow. This pain results from the repeated stress applied to this area during both forehand and backhand movements and/or follow-trough during the game. These actions eventually result in painful “micro-tears” of the lateral epicondylar tendon and ligament. If left untreated, this condition may lead to instability of the elbow joint or even arthritis.

Surgical repair of this condition is done via arthroscopy, where the tendons and ligaments are visually inspected and obvious tears are repaired. If the tendons/ligaments are chronically stretched and scarred, the surgeon will usually shorten them by removing unhealthy portions and then reattaching the healthy sections to one another. Any obvious bone chips or calcified changes that can be visualized are often removed at this time.

Golfer's Elbow

The emphasis on keeping the arm straight during the golf swing tends to focus the mechanical stress involved onto the inside (medial) aspect of the elbow joint resulting in pain that is opposite of that sen in Tennis Elbow. This condition is known as Golfer's Elbow, or medial epicondylitis. The pathological changes in this condition are identical to those seen in Tennis Elbow and surgical treatment is generally the same as for that condition except that it is the medial epicondylar tendon and ligament that are repaired.

It must be mentioned that, regardless of the type of elbow injury that is present, sports medicine specialists will avoid elbow surgery if at all possible since it is rare that the post-surgical elbow will regain 100$ of its pre-injury function. Likewise, there are no surgical techniques that, when performed on “normal” elbows, will result in increased performance or strength.