Rehabilitation Protocol for the Elbow

General Instructions for simple elbow arthroscopy

  • Apply ice covered with a towel to elbow for 2-3 days (15-20 minutes
    at a time).
  • Swelling and bruising is normal. You may loosen dressing if needed.
  • Low grade fevers (37.5 degrees) are common for a couple of days
    after surgery


  • Your dressing may show blood stains after surgery. This is expected.
    If the blood is still wet after the first day seek advice
  • Remove all dressings and cover wounds with elastoplasts after three
  • You may shower after 3 days.
  • Do not swim or submerge incisions in water for 2 weeks.


  • You will be seen in the clinic at 2 weeks to review the wounds and
    discuss the further post-operative course


  • Ideally elevate your elbow and hand above the level of your heart
    when resting for 2-3 days after surgery to decrease swelling. This
    is not usually practical so you may elevate it above waist level.
  • On the day of surgery start exercises by squeezing the hand to make
    a fist and then straightening the fingers. Repeat this as often as
  • On the first day after surgery start to flex and extend the wrist
    (like waving goodbye)
  • As soon as possible start flexing and extending the elbow as comfort

Work and Driving

  • Your comfort level should be your guide for returning to work.
  • Most people are able to return to work within 1-2 weeks.
  • Driving is allowed when you feel that you can control the car and
    that the elbow will allow you to turn the wheel in an emergency.