Your elbow might look like a simple hinge, but it’s a pretty complex joint that supports a lot of movement and function. Composed of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, an injury to any one of these components can cause pain, stiffness, and a loss of function.
As a top-ranked orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in Sugar Land and Houston, Texas, J. Michael Bennett, MD, uses elbow arthroscopy to diagnose and treat many types of elbow problems. If arthroscopy is in your future, here’s what to expect.
Elbow arthroscopy: The basics
Arthroscopy is a type of minimally invasive surgery that uses a special instrument called an arthroscope to see around and inside your joint. Elbow arthroscopy typically uses two tiny incisions, one on each side of the elbow joint. Each incision is less than a centimeter side.
Dr. Bennett inserts the long, thin, flexible scope in one incision. The scope is equipped with bright lights and a tiny camera. The camera sends real-time images to a monitor, so Dr. Bennett has a clear view of the joint — without needing a large incision.
Those images allow Dr. Bennett to diagnose the cause of elbow pain and stiffness and to perform certain procedures to restore mobility and relieve discomfort. In some cases, depending on what those images show, Dr. Bennett may make a third, tiny incision to access scar tissue or remove loose material that could be causing your symptoms.
Smaller incisions mean less tissue damage, less bleeding, and less swelling afterward. Most patients also experience a faster recovery compared to having traditional surgery with a larger incision.
When arthroscopy is recommended
Despite the benefits of arthroscopy, it’s not always the best approach. Some elbow injuries require a traditional “open” approach with a larger incision that allows greater access to the joint.
Elbow arthroscopy is typically a good choice for many patients with:
- Tennis elbow and other sports-related injuries
- Scar tissue that impairs movement
- Loose fragments of cartilage or bone
- Elbow arthritis
- Injuries due to overuse or repetitive use
- Some fractures
With an elbow injury, arthroscopy is typically recommended if nonsurgical treatments, like rest, therapy, or medication, have failed to provide relief. Before your procedure, you’ll have an MRI or other diagnostic imaging to provide him with detailed information about your joint issue.
Find relief for your elbow symptoms
Dr. Bennett has special training in arthroscopic surgery so that he can recommend the best option based on your unique needs, your lifestyle, and your treatment goals. If you have elbow pain or stiffness, don’t put off getting the care you need to restore normal joint function. Call or book an appointment online to learn how Dr. Bennett can help.