What Is Elbow Arthroscopy?

Elbow arthroscopy procedure

What Is Elbow Arthroscopy?

Elbow arthroscopy is an innovative procedure that can treat a variety of conditions that affect the elbow. This article will help you understand what the procedure entails and which conditions it is often used to treat.

What does elbow arthroscopy involve?

Sometimes, the elbow joint can develop problems from overuse or after an injury. Elbow arthroscopy is one recommended procedure to inspect the interior of the joint and to diagnose and treat any conditions that may be contributing to your pain.

During an elbow arthroscopy, a surgeon will make several small incisions around your elbow joint. Through these incisions, the surgeon will insert a small camera, known as an arthroscope, into the elbow joint to examine it for signs of damage. The camera projects onto a screen in the operating room, which allows the surgeon to view the joint in a minimally invasive way.

The surgeon will then use small, narrow instruments to repair any damage or remove any bone or tendon fragments that may be interfering with the joint. The camera projection will guide the surgeon as they examine and treat the injured elbow joint.

Since arthroscopic elbow surgery requires only several small incisions, it is a much more efficient and innovative treatment than more traditional surgeries that repair the joint. With elbow arthroscopy, you can tend to expect shorter recovery times and less postoperative pain than with larger incision open surgeries.

What conditions can elbow arthroscopy treat?

Elbow arthroscopy

A variety of painful conditions can be diagnosed or treated with elbow arthroscopy. If you are still suffering from pain, swelling, stiffness, or loss of strength in the elbow after trying suggested non-surgical treatments, surgery may be necessary to treat the injured joint.

Here are some of the most common ailments that a surgeon may recommend arthroscopic elbow surgery for:

  •       Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
  •       Elbow osteoarthritis (arthritis from wear-and-tear or age)
  •       Elbow rheumatoid arthritis (auto-immune inflammatory arthritis)
  •       Loose bone fragments or pieces of cartilage in the joint
  •       Removal of scar tissue buildup
  •       Osteochondritis dissecans (a condition that commonly affects the base of the upper arm bone in throwing athletes)
  •       Elbow fractures

If you’re suffering from any of these conditions, an orthopedic surgeon can determine if arthroscopic elbow surgery is a good fit for you.

What is the recovery like for elbow arthroscopy?

For many people, elbow arthroscopy can be performed as an out-patient procedure, meaning no overnight hospital stay. Immediately following the procedure, your elbow will need to be iced and elevated to minimize swelling. Then, the elbow may be placed in a splint or cast to immobilize the injured joint and allow it to heal properly. You will also likely be prescribed medications to help manage post-op pain.

Often, physical therapy exercises will also be recommended after the operation to stretch and strengthen the elbow and its surrounding muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Physical therapy is often a critical part of post-op rehabilitation to help you restore the strength and range of motion in your elbow.

Since arthroscopic surgery tends to lead to shorter recovery times, you can tend to expect a faster recovery than an open surgery recovery. Depending on the severity of your surgery, full recovery may still take several months.

Elbow arthroscopy at Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants

If you’re dealing with persistent elbow pain or stiffness, it may be time to find out if elbow arthroscopy is right for you. At Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants, you can expect innovative treatments and a team of compassionate orthopedic specialists and surgeons to help you get back to your normal activities.

Don’t put up with elbow pain any longer. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!


Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.

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