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Surgery for Tennis Elbow Shows Long-Term Promise

StuSteeger / flickr

Arthroscopic treatment of tennis elbow has shown to be successful after a long-term follow-up, according to new research presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

Tennis elbow can be successfully managed without surgery in almost 90 percent of cases. When it cannot be controlled by non-surgical measures, the arthroscopic technique used in this study is one of the many different surgical options that have good outcomes.

"This is the first longitudinal study of arthroscopic treatment of tennis elbow," says lead investigator Champ L. Baker, III, M.D., an orthopaedic resident at the University of Pittsburgh. "The initial success from our original short-term study was maintained long term. I am happy to say that arthroscopic release is a good treatment option for lingering tennis elbow."

Investigators studied the long-term (130 months) pain and functional scores of 30 patients who underwent arthroscopic release for tennis elbow. Arthroscopic treatment provided very good results in terms of long-term pain relief and functional restoration. There were no repeat surgeries or injections. Satisfaction rates were also high, with 93 percent of the patients stating that they would have the surgery again if needed.

"If you've had tennis elbow for more than a year and can't get better, then it would be a good idea to investigate having this procedure done by an orthopaedic surgeon skilled in arthroscopy. Patients should get better with very few complications, if any," continues Dr. Baker.

Dr. Baker adds that there are other advantages to arthroscopic surgery. "I can look inside the joint to spot additional problems. Arthroscopic surgery speeds up the rehabilitation. Return to work and play is much quicker with arthroscopic technique versus open surgery, while the complication rate is equal or less."

Adapted from American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine press release.

Tags: Injury, Tennis, Rehabilitation, Elbow Pain, Elbow