Effect of Worker's Compensation after Surgery for Tennis Elbow

Does Worker's Compensation (WC) status affect results of surgery for tennis elbow? Does it take longer for the WC group to return to work? Does WC status make any difference in how much pain the patient has? That's the topic of this study comparing two groups of patients with tennis elbow.

Group one received WC; group two didn't. Everyone in both groups had pain bad enough to prevent them from doing their daily chores and activities. Both groups were treated with surgery to release the wrist extensor tendon along the outside of the elbow. A small bit of joint capsule is also cut where the tendon attaches. The tendon isn't reattached

Patients were followed for at least four years. Relief from pain was about the same in both groups. The symptoms came back now and then for patients in both groups. Patient satisfaction was the same for WC patients as for non-WC patients. Most patients went back to work, but WC patients changed jobs more often.

In general there is data from many studies to show WC patients don't do as well after surgery as non-WC patients. Researchers were surprised at the good outcomes after surgery for tennis elbow in this study. Results of this study show surgical treatment (lateral release) for tennis elbow has equal results regardless of employment status.

References: Marshal L. Balk, MD, et al. Outcome of Surgery for Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow): Effect of Worker's Compensation. In The American Journal of Orthopedics. March 2005. Vol. 34. No. 3. Pp. 122-126.