What kind of surgery do you need?
- Remove the swollen bursa from the back of your elbow
What to Expect: Elbow Surgery
Outpatient surgery (you go home the same day), Wednesday or Friday at:
- Westfall Surgery Center (www.westfallsurgery.com) or Rochester Ambulatory Surgery Center (www.rochestergeneral.org/centers-and-services/ambulatory-care/new-ambulatory-surgery-center)
- Takes about 1 hour. You will be completely asleep (general anesthesia.)
- The anesthesiologist or surgery center nurse will call you the night before surgery to review details.
- You will need someone to drive you home. Expect to be at the surgery center for at least 4-5 hours.
How long will healing take? Expect about 75% healing within 3-4 weeks after nerve or bursa surgery, or 6-8 weeks after tennis-elbow surgery.
- You’ll wear a sling up to 2 weeks to support your arm.
- You can lift up to 1 pound for the first 6 weeks.
- Gradually increase how much, and for how long, you use your arm…use your symptoms as a guide. Don’t overdo it.
- You’ll work on a series of exercises to regain use of your arm.
- If you have Tennis Elbow surgery, you might start physical therapy after 2 weeks to increase the intensity of your exercises as you continue to heal.
- It’s OK to drive after 1-2 weeks IF you can safely control your car. Use common sense.
Time out of work depends on your job. If you have a desk job, you could be back in the office within a few days. If you have a physically heavy job, or do repetitive work, you could be out for up to 3 months. Talk to your employer about this, and ask about returning to work with restrictions for the first few weeks after surgery. Think about your work to get an idea when you could perform your regular job duties.
- After a few days: You could return to an office job with minimal use of your arm/hand; can lift up to 1 pound.
- By 6 weeks: You should have a full range-of-motion; can lift up to 5 pounds, and start some repetitive work. Use of your elbow/wrist/hand as tolerated.
- After 3 months: Expect to work without any particular restrictions; use common sense.
- Complete your section on any disability forms before giving them to our staff. Please allow at least 10 business days, and provide a stamped/addressed envelope.
What are the risks associated with this operation:
- Infection, very rare with elbow surgery.
- Medical problems related to anesthesia, like heart or breathing complications.
- Excessive bleeding or bruising, especially if you’re on blood thinners or bruise easily.
- Continued pain or stiffness in the arm despite everything going as expected.
- The repaired tendon may not heal as expected, or might tear again in the future (especially if you’re a smoker.)
- Blood clot, which can be dangerous if it travels from your leg vein to your lungs. This is not likely with an arm operation. If you have a history of blood clots, we’ll work with your primary-care doctor on prescribing blood-thinners postop to prevent another one.
Prepare for your surgery and you’ll have a speedy recovery:
- Visit our website to learn about elbows, tendonitis, nerve problems, bursitis, etc: www.knowyourbones.com
- See your primary-care physician for preoperative medical clearance (EKG if needed, etc…) and fill out the paperwork for the Surgery Center
- If you have chronic health issues, you may need to see your cardiologist or other specialist before surgery.
- If you take Coumadin, Plavix or other blood-thinner, we’ll contact your doctor who prescribes it. Usually, patients stop taking their blood thinner 5 days before surgery, and re-start the day after.
- Stop taking any anti-inflammatory medicines (Motrin, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Aspirin…) and supplements like glucosamine 7 days before surgery to prevent excess bleeding (you’ll restart them after the operation.)
- Please write down any notes or questions, and bring them to your pre-operative visit for us to talk about.