Recovery time from an average elbow surgery, such as surgery for tennis elbow, can take 3 to 6 months, claims WebMD. This is after an open surgery, where a surgeon makes a relatively large incision at the surgical site.
Arthroscopic elbow surgery, where a surgeon makes tiny incisions around the surgical site and uses miniaturized tools and a camera, can also take some weeks in recovery, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery. Doctors recommend elbow surgery as a last resort because of the risk, pain, expense and long recovery time. Patients may also have to have rehabilitation therapy to help them regain normal movement in the joint.
Elbow surgery should be considered if other modalities, such as corticosteroid shots, haven't relieved the symptoms even after 6 months to a year of treatment, and the patient can no longer perform ordinary tasks because of the pain in his elbow, according to WebMD.
Elbow surgery can be performed using general or local anesthesia. The patient might need to spend a night in the hospital in the case of an open surgery. However, a patient who has undergone arthroscopic elbow surgery might go home after 1 or 2 hours rest, according to the AAOS.