What is a tennis elbow repair/common extensor repair?
Common extensor repair, also known as tennis elbow repair, refers to arthroscopic surgery conducted to treat lateral epicondylitis. The affected area is specifically outside your elbow and at the forearms.
Grade 1: mild aching that worsens after activity but does not interfere with performance.
Grade 2: localised pain at the outer elbow and forearm. Typically tender, minimal disruption.
Grade 3: persistent pain, weakness of muscle, and significant interference in daily activities.
Typically, conservative and non-surgical methods are sufficient to treat tennis elbow. However, if measures prove ineffective, a common extensor repair procedure would be required.
Surgical intervention would be necessary if:
There is no improvement after 3-6 months of diagnosis.
Continued degeneration of tendon exhibited by worsening pain and function.
Acute injury in which the tendon is completely torn or ruptured.
The injury has progressed to grade 3.
How does tennis elbow repair/common extensor repair work?
During the surgery, small incisions are made over the lateral epicondyle. An arthroscope is then inserted, allowing your surgeon to assess the condition of your elbow through the camera. This phase of the procedure is also known as arthroscopic diagnosis.
Upon assessing your condition, the orthopaedic surgeon will begin by debriding the worn-out or damaged tendon. This process is also known as lateral epicondyle debridement. Additionally, if any bone spurs and scar tissues are found, these would be debrided as well.
If necessary, your surgeon may drill holes into the lateral epicondyle to promote healing. The lateral epicondyle is then refixed to the bone. Upon completion, the surgical site is irrigated to prevent infections before it is closed either by sutures or staples.
Benefits of tennis elbow repair/common extensor repair
Short recovery period
What conditions can tennis elbow repair/common extensor repair treat?
Tennis elbow repair/common extensor repair can be used to treat the following conditions:
Tennis elbow/lateral epicondylitis: common extensor tendons that attach your muscle to your bone at the elbow become inflamed and irritated from repeated stress and overuse.
Arthritis: arthritissuch as rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation of the tendon thus an extensor repair will be a measure employed for treatment.
One can expect relief from symptoms of pain and function recovery if mobility was impeded. With a success rate of up to 99%, common extensor repair is a promising surgical intervention for tennis elbow. Complete recovery can range anywhere from 3-6 months. Particularly for athletes, it is advised that one practises rigorous rehabilitation to expedite recovery rate.
Discipline and dedication towards physiotherapy would help in speeding up recovery. Diets and post-surgical habits could also impact your healing rate. With positive post-surgical care and collaborative work with your orthopaedist, a positive outcome can be anticipated.
Your orthopaedist can give you a better idea of what to expect based on your individual needs and circumstances.
How many treatment sessions are needed?
A common extensor repair is rarely required, and when necessary, a single repair is sufficient. However, there are possibilities for one to sustain a tennis elbow injury again even after surgery. This may be due to an inflammatory condition that continuously degenerates conditions of the tendon or repeated stress to the tendons by repetitive movement.
With appropriate prevention strategies in place, the need for recurring surgery can be reduced.
Your orthopaedist will be able to provide you with a bespoke treatment plan, tailored to your needs and requirements.
Your orthopaedic surgeon will be able to provide you with a bespoke treatment plan, tailored to your needs and requirements.
Dr Puah KL is our Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Artisan Sports & Orthopaedic Surgery. He used to serve the sports service of Singapore General Hospital - the highest volume trauma centre for orthopaedics in Singapore.