A young woman plays tennis.

Elbow injury

Leading orthopedic care for elbow pain and injuries

The elbow is an integral part of how we move and get things done. It connects the three bones in our arms and gives us the ability to reach, throw and pull. When our elbows are working well, we hardly think about them. But elbow pain or an injury can put them at the top of your mind.

From avid tennis players to home gardeners, elbow pain can affect anyone. Our team of top orthopedists, hand therapists and hand surgeons are here to help you with even the most complex elbow injuries. As a leading orthopedic practice in the Midwest, we provide innovative treatments in hand therapy, physical therapy, integrative medicine and orthobiologics.

We’ve proudly helped thousands of patients manage their elbow injuries with patient outcomes that exceed the national average. Don’t put up with elbow pain for another day. Speak with a doctor to see how you can start moving comfortably again.

Elbow conditions we treat
  • Distal biceps tendon rupture
  • Elbow dislocations and separations
  • Elbow injuries and fractures
  • Golfer's elbow (medial epicondylitis)
  • Little league elbow (pitcher's elbow)
  • Osteochondritis dissecans
  • Complex regional pain syndrome (reflex sympathetic dystrophy)
  • Sprains and strains to the elbow
  • Tendonitis of the elbow
  • Ulnar nerve compression
Starting treatment for elbow conditions

We recommend visiting a doctor when you notice that elbow pain is affecting your normal routine. The earlier you get treatment for an elbow condition, the easier it will be to manage.

You’ll typically have your first appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Orthopedic surgeons are trained in knowing when surgery is needed to treat elbow pain. We find that nonsurgical treatments are the most effective ways to treat elbow pain in many of our patients, and we’ll only guide you toward surgery when necessary.

Once you’re on a treatment plan, our team of orthopedic doctors, hand therapists, sports medicine doctors and other elbow experts will be by your side to help you recover.

Treating elbow injuries Nonsurgical treatment options

In most cases, we can reduce pain and treat symptoms without surgery. We’ll talk with you about your goals and lifestyle to create a personalized treatment plan. Some common nonsurgical treatments for elbow conditions include:

Hand therapy

Hand therapy is the most common treatment for elbow injuries. Our hand therapists are skilled in treating tennis elbow, cubital tunnel syndrome, sprains, fractures, dislocations and many other painful elbow conditions. Patients of all ages can see our hand therapists for issues affecting the elbows, forearms, wrists or hands.

During your first hand therapy appointment, we’ll assess the function of your elbow and create a personalized treatment plan around your specific needs. With our innovative treatments and science-backed approach, our patient outcomes exceed the national average for many conditions we treat.

Some insurance plans require a referral in order to cover hand therapy. Please call the number on the back of your insurance card to learn more about what’s covered by your insurance.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy may be recommended to manage elbow pain once to help you return to sports or other physical activities. Many of our physical therapists specialize in sports medicine and work with athletes at advanced levels. We can teach you how to modify your golf swing, tennis serve and other repetitive movements so you can return to the game feeling more comfortable and confident. We’ll create an individual plan of exercises, education and manual therapy that fits your lifestyle and specific treatment goals.

We also offer a specialized Return to Throwing Program to help throwers of all ages. Our physical therapists will analyze your elbow, shoulder and arm movement using the latest technology, including Simi® motion capture and video analysis software. Then we’ll modify how you throw to reduce pain and improve effectiveness.

Medications

Injuries and illnesses can cause inflammation of the elbow and surrounding areas. Swelling caused by inflammation can press on nerve endings in the tissue, causing pain. Anti-inflammatory medications, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids, can be used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. In some cases, we may recommend injecting steroids in or near the painful area, providing more long-term relief from pain.

Orthobiologics

TRIA is at the forefront of orthobiologics and is a leader in the research, education and use of this new treatment option. Orthobiologics is an emerging field that uses substances naturally found in the body to restore your elbow’s function. This treatment can be used as an alternative to or in addition to elbow surgery.

Orthobiologics can be used to treat elbow cartilage wear and tear, ligament injuries and many other elbow conditions. During this treatment, we’ll give you an injection in or near the elbow to promote the growth of healthy tissue and reduce inflammation.

Integrative medicine

TRIA has the only program in the Twin Cities that provides integrative medicine solutions for living with chronic hand and elbow pain. Integrative medicine uses evidence-based holistic treatments to manage pain and promote healing, including acupuncture, yoga therapy and our living well consults. We often prescribe integrative medicine to complement other treatments.

Surgical treatment options

If nonsurgical options don’t effectively treat your elbow pain, we’ll talk with you about surgical options to help you reach your goals. At TRIA, we’ll only guide you toward surgery when it’s the most effective treatment for you.

Whenever possible, we’ll perform minimally invasive, outpatient surgery in our ambulatory surgery center. This is a more affordable option for our patients, and takes about half the time as surgeries in a hospital operating room.

Some of the common elbow surgeries we perform are:

Arthroscopic elbow surgery

Arthroscopic elbow surgery is a minimally invasive procedure where we use an arthroscope, a small tube with a camera on the end, to guide us as we remove damaged tissue. This enables us to make the smallest incisions possible, reducing your recovery time. Arthroscopic elbow surgery can be used to treat tennis elbow, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, general wear and tear of the elbow, and many other conditions.

Elbow replacement surgery

There are multiple arm bones that connect at our elbow joint. The ends of these bones are covered with articular cartilage, which keeps the bones from rubbing against each other and helps our elbow move smoothly. If articular cartilage wears away, friction in the elbow can cause pain, stiffness and inflammation.

During elbow replacement surgery, we’ll replace damaged parts of your elbow with an artificial joint so the elbow can move smoothly. Depending on your elbow’s condition, we may recommend a partial or total elbow replacement. If surgery is the best treatment for your condition, we’ll talk with you about what to expect and answer all your questions.

When you have an elbow replacement at TRIA, you’ll have the option to recover at home, in the hospital or at a hotel as part of our Hotel Recovery Program. This can be a more affordable and comfortable recovery experience for our patients.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

The only way to know if you’ll need surgery for your elbow condition is to visit a doctor. Our orthopedic doctors can evaluate your condition and determine if surgery is needed. Many of our patients are able to improve their elbow function with nonsurgical treatments, and we’ll only guide you toward surgery when it’s the most effective treatment for you. If surgery is needed, we’ll talk with you about what procedure we recommend, answer your questions and make sure you feel as prepared as possible before, during and after your surgery.

We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, PreferredOne and many others.

You can check with your insurance to see if your plan covers part or all of the  services needed. Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.

Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are member services numbers to help you get started: