Elbow Arthroscopy in Dallas & Frisco, Texas

Arthroscopic Elbow Surgeryf

Elbow Anatomy

The elbow is a complex joint in the body which allows the bending, straightening, and rotation of the forearm. Three bones form this essential part of the body: the humerus, the ulna, and the radius. Articular cartilage covers the surface of these bones where they meet to form the elbow joint. This smooth substance acts as a cushion and protects the bones from forces applied to the joint. Additionally, a thin, smooth tissue called the synovial membrane covers the rest of the surfaces within the elbow. Healthy elbows make their own fluid that lubricates the cartilage, which then eliminates almost all friction as you move your arm. When people experience issues with their elbows, they may experience a loss of mobility, pain, or inflammation. In order to treat these conditions, patients often undergo elbow arthroscopy surgery.

Frisco & Dallas Elbow Pain Specialists

At SPORT Orthopedics & Rehabilitation, we offer top-of-the-line treatments and elbow surgery for patients experiencing a wide variety of joint issues. Our locations in Dallas and Frisco also offer the best in physical therapy either for non-surgical approaches or as an addition to your surgical treatment. If you suffered an injury or have a joint condition in your elbow, our experts have extensive experience treating all types of elbow joint issues with elbow arthroscopy. To schedule an appointment with an experienced and widely-regarded orthopedic surgeon, please call SPORT today at 469-200-2832.

elbow arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a form of minimally invasive surgery employed by experienced orthopedic surgeons to treat injured or diseased joints. Elbow arthroscopy involves the use of fiber optics and a very small camera inserted through small incisions or portals into the elbow joint. The surgeon views the inside of the elbow via a television monitor while they insert tiny surgical instruments into the “portal.” Arthroscopy allows the surgeon to avoid damaging the surrounding soft tissue of the elbow, as well as evaluate the joint more thoroughly. Generally, surgeons take MRIs and X-rays of the joint to obtain information about the tissues surrounding the bones. This information allows surgeons to view irregularities, as well as decide where to place portals for the surgical instruments.

Our orthopedic surgeons recommend elbow arthroscopy for a variety of reasons, including pain, stiffness, or loss of motion in the joint. Common diagnoses include the following:

  • Adhesions: These are bands of soft tissue which block motion. They usually result from previous injury to the elbow, like a fracture.
  • Contractures: These are conditions in which the muscles and tendons abnormally contract. This limits the range of motion. Fragments of bone or cartilage sometimes break loose, which cause pain, catching, or locking of the joint.
  • Arthritis: This disease wears away at the cartilage of the joints, which prevents the joints from smoothly gliding against each other during movement.
  • Tennis Elbow: This involves painful tendonitis on the muscles of the outer part of the elbow. 
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD): This involves a lack of blood flow to a certain part of the humerus bone. Generally, this issue develops in teenagers or older children who frequently participate in sports involving throwing or bearing weight on the upper body.

Before elbow arthroscopy, patients either receive general or localized anesthesia. General anesthesia results in patients sleeping through the procedure, and they feel no pain. Local anesthesia, coupled with medicine, helps patients to relax while the area to be operated on is numb to pain. Many people experience some degree of pain or discomfort after any surgery, but our orthopedic surgeons will likely prescribe pain medication to help ease that pain. Following your orthopedic surgeon's orders about limited movement and postoperative care is imperative to avoid aggravating or disturbing the area. In some cases, applying ice helps with swelling or soreness of the area. If you experience an abnormal amount of pain after your surgery, contact your doctor immediately. Other reasons to call your doctor include fever, chills, severe pain, loss of feeling in the arm or hand, redness, swelling, or draining from the incisions.

After consulting with one of our orthopedic surgeons and determining that elbow arthroscopy is the way to go, you will work together to develop a treatment plan. This plan will ensure that you achieve the best results possible after your surgery, barring any unavoidable complications. Preparing for surgery both mentally and physically is the first step to full recovery. Below, we list the steps to take the day before your surgery:

  • You cannot drive for at least 24 hours after the surgery. Arrange for someone to take you to and from the hospital.
  • Avoid eating or drinking anything before your surgery as your doctor directs you.
  • Sometimes, our orthopedic surgeons recommend that you engage in physical therapy or targeted exercises to build muscle around the area.
  • Take all medications as directed. Some medications should not be taken for a certain period of time prior to surgery, as they might prevent blood clotting.
  • Have someone available to help with everyday tasks after your surgery. Anything that you need two hands to do will require help from someone else.

Usually, yes. This is done using general anesthesia, which both puts you to sleep and prevents you from feeling pain. In most cases, staff members speak with you about your anesthesia options. In a few cases, they may find that regional nerve block injections are the best option for you. While it does numb the elbow area, the numbing effect lasts for a few hours after the procedure. This is the principal reason why this method is rarely used. The other reason is that, with numbed nerves, your surgeon cannot perform a nerve examination after the procedure’s completion. Thus, general or regional anesthesia is usually the way to go.

Most patients have no problems with their elbow arthroscopy. However, as with any surgery, there are potential risks and complications involved. Below, we list potential complications of this procedure:

  • Elbow arthroscopy has a slightly higher risk of nerve irritation and infection than shoulder or knee arthroscopy.
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to blood vessels
  • Damage to nerves

Every patient has a somewhat different condition and procedure, so recovery times vary from person to person. For minor repairs and procedures, your surgeon might not even have you wear a split. After a short period of rehabilitation, you will likely see your range of motion return. Returning to school and/or work is possible after a few days of recovery from the procedure.

For more complicated procedures, more recovery time is necessary. Even though the incisions are very small for arthroscopy, it is possible to repair extensive elbow damage. For repairs of extensive damage, we sometimes see recovery times of up to several months. While this is a slow process, it is extremely important to allow your body to heal properly. Always follow the recommendations of your surgeon, as well as your rehabilitation plan. This is key to as successful an outcome as possible, and will help prevent further damage to the area.

Follow-up appointments, like the procedures themselves, vary from patient to patient. Your orthopedic surgeon will work out a plan to monitor your recovery and give you tips on how to effectively manage any pain you might have. Go to all follow-up appointments and adhere to your orthopedic surgeon's recommendations. In certain cases, it may be necessary to call your doctor if you experience the below complications:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Trouble breathing
  • Sudden chest pain, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood
  • Numbness, tingling, or bluish color in the fingers or hands
  • Nausea
  • Pain that does not improve with pain medication
  • Loose stitches or incisions that reopen
  • Signs of infection
  • Blood soaking through your wound dressings or bandages

Dallas Elbow Arthroscopy Specialist

If you have trouble going about your daily life because of pain or discomfort with your elbow, our experts at SPORT Orthopedics and Rehabilitation are here to help. We perform a variety of different joint replacements and surgeries, including elbow and shoulder arthroscopy. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our professionals, as we can’t wait to work with you to restore your quality of life. To schedule an appointment with us, please call 469-200-2832 today, or visit us online and fill out our online intake form. We look forward to working with you and guiding you through the process.