Discharge Instructions for Elbow Arthroscopy

You had elbow arthroscopy. This is a surgical procedure that uses small cuts or incisions. A tiny camera and thin tools are inserted into these cuts to find, 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 healthcare provider.

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

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

  • Ask your doctor before going back 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 that require pushing, pulling, lifting, or twisting until your healthcare provider says you can.

Other home care

  • Take pain medicine as directed.

  • Use an ice pack to reduce the swelling. Keep the arm elevated. Apply the ice pack for 20 minutes; then remove it for 20 minutes. Repeat as needed. To make an ice pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin.

  • Shower as needed. Cover any dressing you have with plastic to keep it dry. Seal the plastic with tape.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your healthcare provider.

Call 911

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

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

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

  • The incision opens

  • Increased pain with or without activity