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Discharge Instructions for Elbow Arthroscopy

You had elbow arthroscopy. This is a surgical procedure that uses small incisions (cuts) through which a tiny camera and thin instruments are passed to locate, identify, and treat problems inside the elbow joint. These problems include loose pieces of bone and cartilage, bone spurs, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), and synovitis. Below are tips to help speed your recovery from surgery.


  • Wear your dressing, splint, or sling as directed by your doctor.

  • Do all exercises learned in the hospital, as instructed by your doctor.

  • Don’t drive for 2 to 3 days after surgery. And never drive while you are taking opioid pain medicine.

  • Ask your doctor before returning to work. Most people can return to work after 7 days. But if your job requires heavy lifting, you may need to delay your return to work for several weeks. Remember that full recovery takes about 3 to 6 weeks.

  • Don’t use the affected arm for activities involving pushing, pulling, lifting, or twisting until your doctor says you can.

Other home care

  • Take pain medicine as directed.

  • Use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas—or something similar—wrapped in a thin towel to reduce the swelling. Keep the arm elevated. Apply the ice pack for 20 minutes; then remove it for 20 minutes. Repeat as needed.

  • Shower as necessary. Cover any dressing you have with plastic to keep it dry.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your doctor.


When to seek medical attention

Call 911 right away if you have any of the following:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

Otherwise, call your doctor immediately if you have any of th e following:

  • Fever above 100.4°F (38.0°C) (when taken by mouth) or shaking chills

  • Increased drainage, redness, tenderness, or swelling of the incision

  • Opening of the incision

  • Increased pain with or without activity


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