Health Information

Tennis elbow surgery - discharge

Tennis elbow surgery - discharge


Lateral epicondylitis surgery - discharge; Lateral tendinosis surgery - discharge; Lateral tennis elbow surgery - discharge

You have had surgery to repair a tendon in your elbow. The surgeon made a cut (incision) over the tendon, then scraped away (excise) the unhealthy part of your tendon, leaving the healthy part alone.

I Would Like to Learn About:

  • What to Expect

    Soon after the surgery, severe pain will decrease, but you may have mild soreness for 3 to 6 months.

  • Symptom Relief

    Place ice packs on the dressing (bandage) over your wound (incision) 4 to 6 times a day for about 20 minutes each time. Wrap the ice in a clean towel or cloth. Do NOT place it directly on the dressing. Ice will help keep swelling down. 

    Taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or other similar drugs may help. Ask your doctor about using them. 

    Your doctor may give you a prescription for pain medicines. Get it filled on your way home so you have it when you need it.

  • Wound Care

    The first week after the surgery you may have a thick bandage or a splint. You should begin moving your arm gently, as recommended by your surgeon. 

    After the first week, your bandage, splint, and stitches will be removed.  

    Keep your bandage and your wound clean and dry. Your health care provider will tell you when it is okay to change your address. Also change your dressing if it gets dirty or wet. 

    You will likely see your surgeon in about 1 week.

  • Activity and Exercise

    You should start stretching exercises after the splint is removed to increase flexibility and range of motion. Strength training can begin after 3 to 4 weeks. You should be able to return to normal activity and sports after 4 to 6 months. 

    Your health care provider may prescribe a wrist brace so you can avoid extending your wrist to pull on the injured tendon.

  • When to Call the Doctor

    After the operation call the doctor if around your elbow you notice:

    • Swelling
    • Severe or increased pain
    • Changes in skin color around or below your elbow
    • Lost or change in sensation in your hands and fingers
    • Of if you have other worrying symptoms

Related Information


Review Date: 11/15/2012  

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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