The elbow consists of three joints located where the forearm bones meet the humerus bone of the upper arm. When the elbow is injured or affected by a condition like arthritis, it can interfere with the mobility and function of the entire arm. If you are experiencing elbow pain/swelling, or having trouble moving your arm, conservative treatments like rest, medication and physical therapy may help. However, elbow surgery may be necessary for full rehabilitation, depending on your individual case. When considering surgical treatment, knowing what to expect from orthopedic elbow surgery is very helpful. This way, you can plan ahead and set yourself up to achieve the best possible outcome.
What to Expect from Orthopedic Elbow Surgery
Depending on the type of elbow problem, its severity and other factors specific to the patient, the most appropriate elbow surgery option can vary. Minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery can be effective in the treatment of numerous elbow problems, including tennis elbow and early elbow arthritis. Meanwhile, open surgeries like elbow fracture repair or joint replacement are generally more beneficial for elbow fractures or advanced arthritis.
While recovery time and results will vary for each procedure and patient, here is some general information on what to expect from orthopedic elbow surgery:
- – After completing surgery, your orthopedic surgeon will place a bandage over your wound and stitches. Your orthopedic surgeon will provide detailed instructions on how to care for your wound and ease any discomfort, such as by icing your arm or taking pain relievers. You may need to wear an elbow splint for around 7-10 days to stabilize your arm as it heals.
- – Once you are cleared to remove your splint, you’ll be instructed to start performing exercises designed to increase your elbow strength, flexibility and mobility. These motions may be painful at first, but they should gradually feel more comfortable as your elbow becomes stronger within approximately 3-6 months.
- – After elbow surgery, most patients are able to return to their daily activities in 2-6 weeks and can resume work in 6-12 weeks, with accommodations made if necessary. As for returning to athletic activities, most patients are advised to wait around 4-24 weeks to make sure the operated elbow has healed enough to participate in sports without a high risk of reinjury.
The majority of elbow surgery patients report a significant improvement in their symptoms, with minimized pain and greater mobility typically achieved six months to one year after surgery. Keep in mind that your personal experience will ultimately depend on your body’s healing rate, the type of surgery you undergo, how closely you follow post-operative instructions and other individual factors.
Depend On Dr. Soffer for State-of-the-Art Elbow Care
If you are experiencing ongoing elbow discomfort, it may be time to explore treatment options with an orthopedic specialist such as Dr. Stephen Soffer in Reading, PA. Earlier in his career, Dr. Soffer completed a fellowship and co-authored the first elbow arthroscopy textbook published in the U.S. with Dr. James Andrews. Today, he is widely recognized as a distinguished, board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in the treatment of elbow, knee and shoulder issues.
If you are ready to find relief for an orthopedic condition or sports injury, call our office today at 610-375-4949 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Soffer.