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Bone Spur Elbow Repair: What to Expect after Surgery 

Bone Spur Elbow Repair: What to Expect after Surgery 

Throwing injuries, particularly those of the elbow, are common in pitchers. Both overuse injuries and trauma may cause a bone spur to develop on your elbow.

Bone spurs are smooth lumps of bone that grow near or in a joint. Your body creates bone spurs in response to an injury/stress to the cartilage that lines a joint. As it attempts to repair the cartilage, it also makes new bone cells. These bony growths are bone spurs.

Bone spurs may limit range of motion and cause pain and may make throwing more difficult. They also can pinch against soft tissues and nerves, causing pain.

You can’t dissolve or massage away a bone spur. If you have a bone spur in your elbow, it may be impossible to throw without experiencing limiting pain. Minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery is the only way to remove a bone spur.

At Houston Methodist Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, David Lintner, MD, a leader in orthopedic sports medicine, uses minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to remove elbow bone spurs. At our Kingwood and Houston, Texas, locations, our medical team helps you recover from your surgery.

What should you expect after bone spur removal? The following is a brief guide.

You’ll go home within hours

You don’t need an overnight stay after bone-spur surgery. After Dr. Lintner removes your bone spur, you remain in our outpatient center until we’re sure you are awake and alert.

You’ll be drowsy from the anesthetic, so you must arrange ahead of time for somebody to drive you home. You may be sleepy for a few days after the surgery. Your body needs to heal.

You’ll wear a sling

Even though we encourage you to gently move your elbow as soon as possible, you can’t use it to accomplish tasks like lifting. You wear a sling for comfort for about 3-5 days while intermittently working on regaining your full range of motion.. The sling takes pressure off your arm and reduces your chances of accidentally injuring your elbow. 

You’ll take medication

Depending on your needs, we may prescribe an antibiotic or pain medication. You may also be able to use over-the-counter painkillers.

If your pain medication upsets your stomach, try taking them after meals. 

You’ll care for your operative site

Although arthroscopic surgery uses small incisions, you still must treat the operative site with care. If you have bandages or tape, keep them clean and dry. We let you know when it’s okay to remove them or get them wet..

It’s important to keep the site clean and dry. As part of your after-care instructions, we show you how to care for the site.

Add a wrapped ice pack to your operative site to reduce pain and swelling. Keep the pack in place for 10-20 minutes every couple of hours. You can stop icing after three days. 

You’ll undergo physical therapy

About a week after your surgery, you start physical therapy (PT). Your physical therapist helps you rebuild and stretch the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support your elbow.

Depending on your goals, your rehab protocol may last 6-8 weeks or even longer. If you’re an athlete, the PT focuses on rehabbing your elbow so you can play your sport again. We discuss your rehab timeline before your surgery.

Does your elbow hurt when you throw or lift? Contact our friendly and knowledgeable staff at the nearest office by phone or the online form for a throwing injury evaluation and possible bone spur treatment.

Special message: If you’re currently dealing with a sports injury and live far from Houston, consider sending your MRI to Dr. Lintner for a second opinion.

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