This handout explains the follow‐up care after the surgery of lateral/medial epicondylar release. If the incision is red or if there is drainage coming out of it, please call us right away. The phone number is listed on the bottom of this page. Go to the emergency room if this occurs at a night or on a weekend.

Wound Care:

  • After surgery, your arm will be in a bulky splint that goes from your hand to above your elbow. This helps to protect the incision site and lessen the swelling.

Pain Management:

  • You will receive a prescription for narcotic pain medication. Take this with your medication as directed. It is important to “stay ahead” of your pain medication and avoid having to play “catch up” for significant increases in pain. Medication for nausea will also be provided. Please make sure to take this as directed.
  • Please make sure to check with the postoperative nurses and the office staff at Bellevue Bone & Joint Physicians about how to manage your pain medication. To best manage your pain, you must take the pain medication the way it was prescribed. Taking the correct dose at the right time is very important.
  • If you have uncomfortable side effects from the pain medication, please call us at 425-462-9800.
  • Please see “medications after surgery” information form for more instructions.
  • It is normal to have some pain off and on for approximately one year after surgery particularly in cold weather.


  • Do not drive if you are taking narcotic medications as it is not safe. Taking medication can make you sleepy and delay your reaction time.
  • Once you are no longer taking narcotic medication, you may drive as soon as you can comfortably grip the steering wheel with both hands.


  • Move your fingers to help prevent stiffness. Try completely bending and straightening your fingers five to six times a day.
  • You should exercise your shoulder by raising your arm overhead in order to avoid stiffness since you will not be using your arm for everyday activities.
  • Do not lift any object heavier than a pencil until your sutures have been removed.
  • You may type or write after surgery, but this may be difficult for 3-4 weeks because of the swelling and stiffness.
  • Elevate your hand as much as possible to lessen the swelling, pain and stiffness.


  • After your sutures are removed 10-14 days after surgery, your arm will be placed in a removable brace that goes above your elbow. You will be able to remove this brace to do therapy, exercise, and to bathe.
  • Once your sutures have been removed, you will visit with our therapist, who will teach you exercise to increase the range of motion of your elbow and wrist.


Most patients who have lateral and medial epicondylar release surgery regain full use of their hand, wrist and elbow, although it may take up to three or four months to regain strength.

Thomas E. Trumble, M.D.

*Figures courtesy of Principles of Hand Surgery and Therapy by Thomas E. Trumble, MD, Ghazi M. Rayan, MD, Mark E. Baratz, MD and Jeffrey E. Budoff, MD