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Just as arthroscopy is helpful in treating shoulder conditions, it is also used to diagnose and repair two common elbow problems. The elbow is also a complex joint, comprised of three bones and surrounding cartilage and ligaments. It is often the source of pain for athletes who engage in sports that involve bending and flexing the joint.
Two conditions that are often diagnosed in athletes – lateral epicondylitis, known more commonly as tennis elbow, and medial epicondylitis or golfer’s elbow – can be effectively repaired through arthroscopy.
Tennis elbos is caused by inflammation of the tendons in the forearm, just outside the elbow. The condition frequently develops in individuals who play tennis or racket sports from repeated motion of swinging the racket. Athletes are not the only ones who can develop tennis elbow. Painters, plumbers, carpenters and others involved in crafts may be more prone to developing tennis elbow.
Tennis elbow causes a persistent pain and burning on the outside of the elbow. Overtime, your grip – whether holding tools or a racket – may weaken. While most patients get relief from non-surgical treatments, such as rest, medications, physical therapy, steroid injections and bracing, the condition may eventually need surgical intervention.
Golfer's elbow is the inflammation of the tendons that attach the forearm muscles to the inside of the bone. Just as with tennis elbow, the condition is causes by repeated motion and injury to the tendons and surrounding area.
Under general anesthesia, the orthopaedic surgeon first fills the joint with fluid to clear the visual field. Four to six small incisions are made around the elbow and the fiber optic camera is inserted into the joint. Images are projected onto a screen to guide the surgeon through the repair. If there is diseased muscle, it can be removed and healthy muscle is reattached to the bone.
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