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Elbow Surgery: Terrible Tennis Tale

Elbow Surgery

What Is Elbow Surgery?

The surgical correction and repair of the tendons, ligaments and bones in the elbow joint forms an integral part of the elbow surgery. This is performed to restore the ability of the elbow to perform various movements without any pain or underlying discomfort. As for example, the sport of tennis involves a continuous movement of arms at the elbow joint. Due to repetitive movements, the tendons of the elbow joint begin wearing away; this can be attributed to the lactic acid levels which lead to fatigue. Normally pain killers and physiotherapy are advised to cause relief from pain and discomfort. In extreme cases, a surgical correction remains the only viable option. 

Causes of Elbow Trauma:

  • Tennis elbow is caused by the sport tennis; this occurs due to a repeated use of the joint as a result of which the tendons become worn out and fatigued
  • Trauma to the elbow also can occur due to road traffic accidents or forceful falls leading to damage to the bones, ligaments and tendons of the joint of the elbow.
  • Fractures also occur due to accidents, falls
  • Bursitis is due to inflammation of the bursae; tendonitis is inflammation of the tendons
  • Dislocations are common due to falls, fights, accidents
  • Wearing away of the joint bones and lack of synovial fluid leads to arthritis

Signs and Symptoms of Tennis Elbow/Elbow Trauma:

  • Pain and tenderness in and around the joint
  • Swelling and redness in variable degrees can be seen
  • Discomfort while making movements involving the elbow joint
  • Difficulty while performing various daily chores such as lifting a cup of tea, picking a stack of clothes, washing hair
  • At times, the pain also radiates to the fingers and palms giving a tingling sensation in the parts

Diagnosis of Elbow Trauma:

  • Physical examination: Your orthopedic surgeon will ask you to flex your arm and the elbow joint so as to see where the pain lies. The elbow is palpated for signs of any tenderness, swelling. Once all the signs for tennis elbow are confirmed, the surgery can be planned accordingly.
  • X-ray examination: It becomes essential to study the bones also, involved in the treatment plan so as to rule out any existing bony pathology. The bones visualized with the x- ray will be lower end of humerus and upper ends of radius and ulna. 
  • Magnetic resonance imaging MRI: The soft tissues such as the ligaments, tendons and the muscles of the elbow joint can be well studied in MRI. The exact location of the tearing in the tendon or hypertrophy of the muscle can be made out in the MRI image. The synovial membrane, bursae also can be examined with the help of this imaging technique.

Treatment Procedures for Elbow Surgery:

There can be various methods and approaches for the surgical repair of the elbow joints and associated soft tissue structures. These are as follows:

  • Synovectomy: This can be both, an open surgery or an arthroscopic one. The synovial membrane that has been damaged or ruptured due to any etiology is repaired. The damaged parts of the synovium are removed. The ones that are torn are severed together and left in place to heal. The synovial membrane is required to reduce friction in the joint and enable smooth functioning duting the movements.
  • Open surgery and internal fixation: This is the choice of treatment in cases of severe fractures of the elbow joint. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Incisions are made at the site of the joint with the help of surgical blades and scalpels. The joint is opened and the fractured parts are fixed with the help of surgical plates. Once this is done, the parts are allowed to heal with the help of immobilization procedure followed. The wound is closed with the help of sutures and left to heal on its own.
  • Arthroscopy: This is one of the recent advancements in the field of orthopedic surgery. In this procedure, a smaller length of incision is made as compared to the traditional 8 cm one required in elbow surgery. An arthroscope is then inserted via the incision. Arthroscope is a long tubular structure at one end of which is a small camera attached to visualize the joint cavity and space. As a result of this, the surgeon can operate and simultaneously see the entire working area and work accordingly. Fracture reduction, repair of tendons and ligaments all can be done with the help of this approach. It prevents infection of the wound, scarring of tissues and also guarantees a bloodless field of surgery.
  • Total elbow replacement surgery: Total Elbow Replacement is a surgical procedure whereby the functional mechanics of the joint are restored by removing scar tissues, balancing muscles and inserting a prosthetic joint in place of the destroyed one. After giving the anesthesia, the surgeon makes an incision in the back side of the elbow joint. Thereafter, the tendons and ligaments are removed, exposing the joint. The joint surfaces of the ulna, radius and humerus are removed surgically.

Complications and Risk Factors Associated With Elbow Surgery:

  • Infections at the site of wound
  • Scarring of the skin over the sutures
  • Ulnar nerve damage
  • Joint stiffness and immobility
  • Complications from anesthesia
  • Implant dislocation; implant failures and irritations

Am I Good Candidate For Elbow Surgery?

You can consider yourself as an ideal candidate for elbow surgery, if any of the following are your symptoms:

  • Tremendous pain in the elbow joint
  • Tenderness, swelling in the joint
  • Difficulty while performing daily activities
  • Radiating pain in the palms and fingers

Recovery Time:

An elbow surgery will take roughly about 6 to 8 weeks time to bring you back to your routine lifestyle. A physiotherapy session of about 8 to 12 times is needed to make you get used to the post surgical period. It also enables you to get adapted to the movements you are required to do in routine life.

Success Rate Of Elbow Surgery 

Elbow surgery has a 90 percent chance of success in all cases. There are very minor chances that a second approach will be needed, unless the patient falls forcefully on the operated elbow.

Benefits of Elbow Surgery:

An elbow surgery will help you in the following ways:

  • Relieve you of pain and discomfort in the elbow
  • Enable you to make movements in all ranges with the help of a healthy elbow joint

Cost Comparisons for Elbow Surgery:

The cost of an elbow surgery in India is 1.5 to 2 lakh, which is about one fifth of the amount you are required to pay in the US/UK or Australia.

Why Choose India For Elbow Surgery?

You can blindly follow the Indian orthopedic hospitals and institutes for the elbow surgical procedures considering team MedcureIndia will ensure the best treatment outcomes at affordable rates.

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