Tennis/Golfer’s Elbow Release

What is tennis/golfer’s elbow release?

The medical term for irritation of the tendons where they attach at the elbow is epicondylitis. Lateral epicondylitis (outer side of elbow) is more commonly known as tennis elbow. Medial epicondylitis (inner side) is commonly called golfer’s elbow. Although the exact cause of these conditions is not known, they do tend to occur after repetitive use of the muscles around the elbow.

Most cases of tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow can be treated without surgery. But for refractory tennis or golfer’s elbow, not relieved by physiotherapy or protein rich plasma injection, surgery to relieve pain may be tried.

How does tennis/golfer’s elbow release work?

The surgery is usually a day procedure. It typically involves making a small incision over the bony prominence of the affected elbow and trimming away damaged tendon at the point where it inserts into the bone.

What is involved and what to expect with tennis/golfer’s elbow release?

Immediately post-op

Your rehabilitation program starts straight away.

Before you leave hospital, your therapist will teach you some initial exercises including:

  • full active range of motion flexion/extension and rotation exercises for the elbow
  • full active flexion/extension wrist exercises within comfort range

You bandage will be removed after 2 days.

2–6 weeks

During this time your exercise program will involve:

  • elbow strengthening into flexion/extension
  • graduated resistance with wrist extension/flexion within comfort range
  • eccentric exercises initially, progressing to concentric loading
  • graduated strengthening into pronation

After 2 weeks, you should be able to return to office-style work or light manual work. Within 6 weeks you should be able to resume driving as long as your pain is well controlled and you have adequate range of motion.

6 weeks +

Your physiotherapy program will now increase to heavy loading.

After 6 weeks you should have full range of motion in your elbow and wrist and be able to return to manual work. You can also start swimming for exercise.

It may take 12 months before you can resume golf or racquet sports.