Do I Need Elbow Surgery?
Elbow Surgery is a Last Resort
Not every elbow condition requires surgery.
It's generally understood by doctors and surgeons that surgery will introduce more scar tissue into your elbow. This added scar tissue will be problematic, requiring PT and often significant treatment post-surgery. If not dealt with properly, your elbow could end up in worse condition than before the surgery! This is why surgery is only performed as a last resort.
If You Haven't Done So Yet, Get a Proper Diagnosis
A serious elbow tendon tear may be termed as Surgically Necessary (SN) and will require surgery, and in cases of complete tears or detachment, there is really no other option. This is why it is important to get to a physician and find out what is really going on - this is known as getting a proper diagnosis. Getting a proper diagnosis would also determine if your elbow pain is a side effect from another condition or disease (lyme disease is one example). This is less common but nonetheless, very serious. So yes, it is important to get a proper diagnosis.
The Good News
Most elbow injuries are not Surgically Necessary, and will heal on their own. This is why most doctors, physicians and orthopaedic specialists will recommend conservative treatments for non-SN elbow injuries before considering surgery.
Some of the most effective conservative treatment methods to avoid surgery are:
- Rest - This is important for initial healing to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation in the early stage of your elbow injury. Too much rest can also be harmful to elbow injuries because joint immobility can actually cause stiffening in the elbow (and even shoulder) joint. This is why rest should be used when reducing initial pain and swelling, but should not be considered for more long-term conservative treatment.
- Avoid Activities that Caused Your Injury - While resting your elbow, it's important to avoid activities that may have caused your injury in the first place and this definitely includes pretty much any type of sport where your upper body is involved. Continuing on with regular activities will not only make your injury worse, but trying to 'work around' your injury will eventually give rise to over-compensation injuries in other areas of your body.
- Use a Cold Compress or Ice Pack - Cold is very effective at reducing pain and inflammation - use at the onset of the injury and during flareups.
- Use an Elbow T•Shellz Wrap® (Circulatory Boost device) - You can use your own blood flow to maximize your rehabilitation, maintain healthy blood flow to your arm and elbow, decrease recovery time, and reduce re-injury risk.. Promoting blood flow to your elbow using a warming treatment will help to minimize the growth of scar tissue and increase flexibility. This is why we recommend TShellz Wrap before undergoing activity - an increase in flexibility should help reduce risk of further injury while also assisting in the battle against atrophy.
- PT - Surgery is usually the last resort. This means doctors or surgeons typically won't perform a surgery until they feel that their patient has put effort into treating their injury with conservative treatment methods. This includes 4 to 6 months of visits to a physical therapist (PT). If you haven't experienced any improvement in your condition during that time then surgery may be considered. Agressive PT approaches will focus on forced or manual manipulation of the elbow and wrist - this means your physical therapists will be trying to move you past the point of comfort as they strive to increase range of motion and prevent further atrophy. This can be painful and end up making your injury worse if not done correctly. (reference: 1)
- Stretching - Stretching your elbow and arm in PT and at home will help you to regain your range of motion much faster than not stretching at all. Stretching in many ways is key for maintaining good Range of Motion (ROM) in the elbow, and stretching can be made much easier with use of a TShellz Wrap before to warm up soft tissue, and a Cold Compress or Ice Pack treatment after to prevent any return of swelling and inflammation.
For acute (new or recent) elbow injuries that have the ability to heal on their own - your doctor may even suggest use of a removable sling. This can be helpful to prepare you for PT sessions and mobility exercises.
However, prolonged use of a sling or long-term rest (restricted movement) without proper exercise or stretching can make your elbow condition worse (and also affect shoulder mobility). If your arm remains completely immobilized and at constant rest, the edges of your soft tissue tear will begin to fill in with scar tissue as part of the healing process. You may also have on-going symptoms of pain, swelling, inflammation, and even poor blood flow circulation.
What Happens When You Are Not Using Conservative Treatment Methods (as Outlined Above)
Soft Tissue Injuries of the Elbow (this also includes injuries to the forearm, wrist and biceps) are all injuries that cannot really be ignored. If you choose to ignore the injury, then this means you will still be be trying to do certain tasks (ie. using a fork, putting on your seat belt, etc) using soft tissue (strained and/or partially torn ligaments & tendons) that is already compromised. This means it will inevitably get worse.
Here is what to expect:
- Since the tissue is still inflamed, lack of proper blood flow will drop your healing rate to a crawl.
- Continually straining the soft tissue (just by doing daily tasks such as cooking or driving) worsens the injury and will introduce more scar tissue.
- Increased scar tissue buildup will tighten the soft tissue in your elbow, decreasing your already limited flexibility.(reduced range of motion)
If you suffer from a painful elbow injury, this means that when you get out of bed in the morning and try to bathe, shave or wash your hair, it will hurt a LOT - this is due to reduced flexibility in the elbow and wrist.
Since the ligaments/tendons of the elbow cannot flex as much as they once did, trying to use it during your simple daily routine just introduces more scar tissue and continuously worsens the injury. As you can see this is a cycle that just gets worse and worse, eventually becoming a chronic (long term) injury. This is the cycle you need to stop or you will probably wind up having surgery once your injury becomes chronic.
What Are the Two Biggest "Gotchas" When Treating My Elbow Using
Conservative Treatment Methods?
The Absence of Pain Does Not Mean Your Injury is Gone
After most of our clients use a Cold Compress or Ice Pack as instructed, the elbow pain disappears very quickly. This where most people wrongly associate the pain with the injury, whereas in truth, almost all of the pain really came from the inflammation and swelling. Once the inflammation is gone, do not assume you are fully healed.
Time Is Not Your Friend
So you have used cold compression and most of the pain is gone, but it's been a couple of months and the injury keeps flaring up. If this is you, then you probably know why this is happening now... the injury was never fully healed. To really heal a tennis elbow or golfer's elbow injury (tendinosis), you really need to rest until it is healed, and you don't need me to tell you this is a pain in the butt! This is why we feel the Elbow TShellz Wrap is such an important tool. It is intended to augment your body's ability to heal; if you can recover quickly, you are more likely to avoid getting into a chronic re-injury cycle.
When the swelling has gone down and the pain has reduced, this is the perfect time to use the Elbow TShellz Wrap. A treatment with the Elbow TShellz Wrap will substantially increase blood-flow to the treatment area - it literally supercharges your body's ability to repair tissue damage. We also highly recommend that our clients treat themselves with the Circulatory Boost wrap first thing in the morning before getting out of bed. This is important, as heat is known to increase elasticity and flexibility of soft tissue; flexible soft tissue will be less likely to strain and tear at their most vulnerable time - after a long period of inactivity.
Why Your Elbow Injury Won't Heal
If our body is designed to heal our own injuries, why does it take so long to heal?
When we have an injured ligament, muscle, tendon or bursa, this means the tissue is damaged. Your body responds to this damage with healing right away. During this healing process the injured tissue spasms. These spasms are contractions, and are meant to hold the tissue still to prevent any further injury.
Swelling and inflammation is your body's way of:
- Creating localized pain to tell you something is wrong there and to stop moving it, and
- Sending blood to the area to start healing. Healing at this point will also expand the blood vessels in the injured tissue - they enlarge and swell causing you pain. This pain is a signal for you to lessen activity that would put anymore undue stress on your elbow.
However, there are significant problems with swelling and inflammation with regard to the body's ability to heal. Once soft tissue is inflamed, blood-flow is restricted. The body heals itself by sending nutrients through the blood to the injured tissue, and if the injured tissue is swollen, the blood-flow is greatly decreased.
Decreased blood-flow to injured tissue prevents the damaged tissue from healing as fast as it would if the area wasn't swollen. The other issue is that swelling is also very painful. With many conditions, once you get rid of the inflammation, a lot of the pain will disappear as well.
Once the Pain is Gone, We Think Our Soft Tissue Injury is Healed.
So we start using it more and more for common tasks, and then "boom" we get a sharp pain and then it starts all over. When this happens, the injury was never fully healed - and now it is worse! More scar tissue grows in the new tissue micro-tears and well, lets talk about scar tissue.
Scar Tissue - We Need It For Kick-Starting Tissue Tear Repair
But After That It is Nasty Stuff
Tendons, ligaments, muscle and other soft tissue in the elbow are all meant to be soft and flexible, ready to work and move extreme forces in everyday activities. When I say extreme force, I mean try to imagine the amount of force that your arm puts on your elbow, even when you are just trying to lift a cup of coffee, let alone something heavy.
Scar tissue grows in damaged tissue when it tries to heal; little tiny band-aids that overlap each other to bind tiny tissue tears together. With this added scar tissue, muscles & tendons & ligaments become rigid, less flexible and unable to handle the forces that it once could. If you're suffering with scar tissue now you may feel the effects with stiffness, tightness, weakness and tiredness in your elbow.
Scar tissue can form fast to bring together the edges of a tear, but working fast doesn't mean that the job's done right. When scar tissue forms it doesn't come together as neatly as regular (healthy) tissue would. Scar tissue fibers will lay down over top of your tear in a cluttered, messy and jumbled up way.
On-going issues with scar tissue can result in soft tissue tears and increase chances of strain to nearby tendons or ligaments (as they are now handling higher forces due to overcompensation).
Scar tissue is one of the MAIN reasons why a chronic elbow injury has not healed and your Range of Motion (ROM) is reduced from what it once was.
Scar tissue will form fast to deal with a soft tissue injury, and this scar tissue will also attach to everything in the area, including the surrounding healthy tissue as well. This can result in a fusing together of the soft tissue in your elbow that shouldn't be fused together, and this will cause extreme pain when you move your elbow - it is literally ripping scar tissue. This is why PT is often painful - the therapist stretches the joint, forcing the scar tissue bonds to break so you can regain your range of motion.
Scar tissue is a significant problem when it comes to an elbow injury - causing your injury to become chronic, and taking months or even YEARS to completely heal!
To reduce scar tissue growth, prevent further injury to the area; this is done by increasing blood flow to the area and using a warming treatment to increase flexibility and length of these tissues (this makes them less likely to injure or tear further). In our opinion, treating yourself with an Elbow TShellz Wrap is an easy, effective way to help assist in your home recovery process by reducing risk of re-injury and minimizing growth of stubborn scar tissue.
When applied before activity or work, the TShellz Wrap will also relax and lengthen your soft tissue to help improve your range of motion and prevent atrophy (tissue wasting & shortening) of your injured elbow.
Overall, continued treatment with a TShellz Wrap will maintain good health in your soft tissue and significantly reduce your risk of re-injury.
Have you seen what happens when you add water to a flower wilted from drought? In essence, your injured elbow is much like a "wilted" flower; your body wants to heal its injury, but needs lots of nutrients to do it. Blood brings life to your tissue by delivering healing nutrients and oxygen that are vital for their growth and survival. In addition, the blood carries away toxins and waste, cleaning the area and healing it faster. Without a good supply of blood, your elbow simply won't heal properly.
Using a T•Shellz Wrap® will not expose you to the risk of causing further harm to soft tissue like you can when using rigorous exercise. The Elbow T•Shellz Wrap® accomplishes the goal of enhanced blood flow without the need for intensive exercise and as such reduces your risk of re-injury.
When to use an Elbow TShellz Wrap:
- Once the swelling is gone (usually after applying cold compression to the injury over 24 to 72 hr period).
- BEFORE getting out of bed in the morning. BEFORE going to bed at night.
- BEFORE exercise, workouts or activity of any kind to increase elasticity of elbow tendons, ligaments and muscles and decrease the chance of re-injury.
- AFTER surgery (once the skin wound has healed over) to boost blood circulation, helping surgically repaired tissues rebuild for long-term health and minimize scar tissue growth at the surgery location.
- Anytime BEFORE you feel you might undertake activity that will put significant strain on the injury area.
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Minimize Your Chance of Elbow Surgery with Effective Conservative Treatment Options
If your doctor thinks you might be able to avoid surgery by using conservative treatments, you can join our many customers who have had great success treating themselves with the powerful treatment products we offer through AidMyTennisElbow.
Regardless of who you are or your reasons, if you want to be proactive about properly addressing your elbow/forearm condition and minimizing the negative impact it will have on your lifestyle, talk with your physician about incorporating the use of a T•Shellz Wrap® in your conservative home recovery plan. We have many happy customers that have recovered from their injuries faster than even they had hoped for, and significantly reduced their pain during treatment and through the healing process.
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We also encourage your to Call Our Office at 1-866-237-9608 (toll free continental NA) where we can answer any questions you have and/or take your order via phone.
If Surgery is Required
Surgery may be neccessary if you have exhausted all forms conservative treatments, resting, cold, PT - and, you still find yourself in pain and have limited use of your arm for daily activities. You and your doctor may decide to move forward and have you undergo surgery. This will trigger the next chapter of your recovery journey. Your post surgery rehabilitation efforts will have an important impact on how soon you can return to living and enjoying your normal daily life. Read more about Elbow Post Surgery here.
The Next Step Is Up To You!
Living with pain is never easy as it affects your entire lifestyle. Living with pain during or after an intensive surgery and lengthy rehabilitation period can be even harder! What is more important than taking your best shot at trying to recovery from your elbow injury at home before signing up for surgery?
Doctors and Surgeons are always improving the technologies used in surgery, and results from surgery now are much more positive than they were in the past. However, all surgeries introduce scar tissue, and recovery from elbow surgery is often disappointing. If you do wind up getting surgery, know that rehabilitation at-home while attending regular PT or doctor appointments is vital for your overall recovery. It is especially vital to the elbow, shoulder and knee areas, as they consistently handle extreme forces (body weight). Consistent exercise and conservative treatment on a daily basis during your rehabilitation while working with your doctor, surgeon or physical therapist is key - and this is why you should seriously consider maximizing your recovery by using the TShellz Wrap at home once you are approved for PT.
AidMyTennisElbow stands out in this regard as our goal is to help you keep your elbow healthy for the long-term in a cost effective manner. This might mean healing your tennis elbow without needing surgery. If you couldn't avoid surgery, then our tools can also help you recover from surgery more quickly and completely..
We strongly believe that we can help you, and we have thousands of happy clients to back this claim. You are welcome to try our products for a 60 day period.. If you are committed to following the treatments outlined in the product instructions we are very confident that our TShellz Wraps will aid you immensely. If you do not receive the benefits that countless of our other customers have experienced from our products, call us, mail the product back to us and we will provide you with a full product refund.
Our online shop accepts Visa & Mastercard as well as a Paypal Payment option.
We also encourage your to Call Our Office at 1-866-237-9608 (toll free continental NA) where we can answer any product related questions you have and/or take your order via phone.
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If any question or concern arises, call us or simply send us an email at any time (we check our emails constantly all throughout the day and night.. even on holidays!). We will respond as soon as possible.
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During your recovery, you will probably have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort at the location of your soft tissue injury until the pain and inflammation settle. Always consult your doctor and/or Physical Therapist before using any of our outstanding products, to make sure they are right for you and your condition. The more diligent you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!