Elbow treatments & procedures


Arthrocentesis is the clinical procedure of using a syringe to collect synovial fluid from a joint capsule. It is also known as joint aspiration. Arthrocentesis is used in the diagnosis of gout, arthritis, and synovial infections.

AKA 'Tommy John' surgery – named after a famous American Baseball pitcher, is a surgical graft procedure in which a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body (often from the forearm, hamstring, hip, knee, or foot of the patient).

The procedure is common among collegiate and professional athletes in several sports.

Elbow dislocation

A simple elbow dislocation means there is no fracture of the bones around the elbow joint. Often surgery is not required.

A complex elbow dislocation occurs where there is a fracture, usually of the forearm, that has occurred along with the dislocation. In a complex elbow dislocation, surgery is often needed to fix the broken bone in order to restore the elbow joint to a normal position.

The procedure involves removal of the diseased tissue. This procedure can been performed through open and arthroscopic approaches.


While the classic open approach provides excellent reproducible results, the mentioned minimally invasive approaches are reported to allow earlier rehabilitation and speedier resumption of normal activity.

Olecranon bursitis

Olecranon bursitis (also known as "student's elbow", "baker's elbow", "swellbow", or "water on the elbow") is a condition characterised by pain, redness and swelling. The bursae contains only a very small amount of fluid in its normal state, and fulfils the function of facilitating the joint's movement.

If the fluid continues to return after draining or the bursae is constantly causing pain, surgery to remove the bursae is an option. The minor operation removes the bursae from the elbow and is left to re-grow but at a normal size over a period of ten to fourteen days.


It is usually done under general anaesthetic and has minimal risks. The surgery does not disturb any muscle, ligament, or joint structures. To recover from surgical removal a splint will be applied to the arm to protect the skin. Exercises will be prescribed to improve range of motion.

Olecranon fractures

Olcranon fractures are common. Although they usually occur in isolation (that is, there are no other injuries), they can be a part of a more complex elbow injury.

Olecranon fractures can occur as a result of a direct blow in a fall or by being struck by a hard object. Another possibility is an indirect fracture. This can happen by landing on an outstretched arm. The person lands on the wrist with the elbow locked out straight.

Surgery to treat an olecranon fracture is usually necessary when the fracture is out of place ("displaced"). Because the triceps muscles attach to the olecranon to help straighten the elbow, it is important for the pieces to be put together so you can straighten your elbow.

Medial epicondylitis

Medial epicondylitis is commonly known as golfer's elbow. This does not mean that only golfers suffer from it, but the golf swing is a common cause. Throwing, chopping wood, using power tools, many activities that stress the same forearm muscles can be a cause.

Sometimes non-surgical treatment fails to stop the pain or regain full use of the elbow. In these cases, surgery may be necessary.

Tendon debridement

When problems are caused by tendonosis, surgeons may choose to remove the affected tissues within the tendon. In these cases, the surgeon cleans up the tendon, removing only the damaged tissue.

Tendon release

This surgery takes tension off the tendon. The surgeon begins by making an incision along the arm over the medial epicondyle. Soft tissues are gently moved aside so the surgeon can see the point where the flexor tendon attaches to the medial epicondyle.

The flexor tendon is then cut where it connects to the medial epicondyle. The surgeon splits the tendon and takes out any extra scar tissue. Any bone spurs found on the medial epicondyle are removed.