Tennis Elbow Release Surgery – what’s involved?

The Procedure

  • The procedure involves a 30 – 40mm incision over the outer aspect of your elbow.
  • This allows access to the affected tendon, which can be fully assessed and treated.
  • The incision will be closed with sutures.
  • Local anaesthetic is instilled into the elbow to provide pain relief in the immediate post-operative period.


  • It is normal to feel slight discomfort within the elbow immediately after the procedure.
  • Power should return over an 8-12 hour period following the procedure.
  • You will be given pain relief whilst you are in hospital if you require it and you will also be given pain relief to take home.
  • It is advisable to take the pain relief given to you even if the pain you are experiencing is bearable. This will help to keep the overall discomfort under control.


  • The stitches, if not dissolvable will normally need to be removed 10-14 days after your operation; this can be done by your practice nurse at the GP surgery.
  • Your elbow will be covered with a wool dressing and crepe bandage. This dressing will need to remain in place until the surgeon has seen you and the nurse is ready to discharge you. Under the bandage the incision will be covered by a smaller adhesive dressing.
  • A support bandage and an arm sling will be given to you before you leave the hospital for you to use when you have removed the wool bandage. The support can normally be removed when you are comfortable without it.
  • You will need to keep your dressing/wound dry for three to five days, after this time you may have light showers.
  • After 10-14 days you can start bathing as long as your wound is completely healed with no wet/oozy areas.
  • Physiotherapy
  • Your elbow should remain in a sling for the first three to four days following the surgery.

Patient Information

  • Physiotherapy is a vital part of the post-operative recovery. An out-patient referral will be made for you as Physiotherapists do not visit the Day surgery Unit.
  • Complications
  • Complications from this procedure are very rare.
  • Watch for any signs of infection; if you experience any of the following you should seek help:
  • The amount of pain in the wound increases after the obvious initial discomfort.
  • The amount of redness and/or swelling increases.
  • You may notice any unpleasant discharge.
  • There will be swelling, this is normal and will generally settle down on its own with elevation and appropriate physiotherapy.
  • Returning to Work/ Driving
  • Your comfort level should be your guide for returning to work. Most people are able to return to work within one to two weeks, but it does depend on the kind of work you do. The surgeon/nursing staff will be able to tell you how long you will require to stay off work for.
  • Patients are normally advised not to drive for one week; driving is only allowed once you feel that you can control the car and that the elbow will allow you to turn the wheel in an emergency.
  • Sports Activities
  • You will be advised as to when you are allowed to start sporting activities again after your operation. This time can be anything up to 12 weeks after your operation, depending on the complexity of the surgery.

Follow-up Appointment

  • The surgeon will usually come out and see you before you go home, and will also arrange to see you again in an out-patient clinic after approximately six to eight weeks. Your follow-up appointment will be sent to you in the post soon after your operation.
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