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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Orthopedics and Injuries > Elbow Treatment or Surgery

Elbow Treatment or Surgery Cost

How Much Does Elbow Treatment or Surgery Cost?

low costWith Insurance: Copays & Coinsurance up to Out of Pocket Maximumaverage costNon-surgical Treatment: $500-$3,000+high costWith Surgery: $10,000-$16,000
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Tennis elbow and golfer's elbow are similar injuries involving microscopic tears to the tendon; tennis elbow occurs on the outside of the elbow, while golfer's elbow occurs on the inside.

Typical costs:

  • Without health insurance, non-surgical treatment of elbow injuries typically costs less than $500 to $3,000 or more. The cost would be on the low end for conservative at-home treatments; in the mid-range for physical therapy, which can cost $50 to $75 per session for a total of $1,000 or more for several sessions per week for a month or more; and on the high end for extracorporeal shock wave treatment, which can total up to $3,000 or more for multiple treatments.
  • Without health insurance, surgical treatment of an elbow injury typically costs $10,000 to $16,000 or more. For example, it can cost $9,313 to $13,064, not including the surgeon fee, to repair an elbow tendon at Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center[1] in Lincoln, Nebraska. According to medical research company PearlDiver, typical surgeon charges for tennis or golfer's elbow surgery range from about $1,500 to a little over $3,000.
  • Treatment for elbow injuries typically would be covered by health insurance, with the possible exception of extracorporeal shock wave treatment. For example, CIGNA[2] considers the procedure experimental, as does Aetna[3] .
  • With health insurance, typical expenses could consist of doctor visit copays and surgery coinsurance of 30 percent or more. The total could reach thousands of dollars or the yearly out-of-pocket maximum.
Related articles: Elbow Replacement, Sprained or Broken Wrist, Broken Arm, Carpal Tunnel Treatment

What should be included:
  • Non-surgical treatment of tennis elbow, which is successful in 80 to 95 percent of cases, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons[4] , involves rest, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, cortisone injection, a brace and possibly physical therapy. In some cases, shock wave therapy, which still is considered experimental, is recommended. In shock wave therapy, a machine that emits sound waves is used to stimulate the body to repair the affected area.
  • In surgical treatment, which usually is used only after at least six months of unsuccessful non-surgical treatment, the doctor will make small incisions and either cut the tendon, cut out some of the inflamed tissue or, if possible, repair the tiny tears in the tendon, according to WebMD[5] . This can be an inpatient or outpatient surgery; general or regional anesthesia is used. It is necessary to take a few days off of work and up to six months away from athletic activity.
Additional costs:
  • A brace can cost $25 or more.
  • Some orthopedic specialists offer discounts for uninsured/cash paying patients. For example, Southern California Orthopedic Institute provides discounted services for cash-paying patients, and Northwest Community Hospital Orthopedic Services Center[6] , in Chicago, offers discounts for prompt payment.
  • Some free clinics, such as Community Health Free Clinic[7] in Chicago, offer orthopedic specialty care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services[8] posts a directory of federally funded health centers; if the nearest clinic doesn't offer orthopedic care, ask for a referral.
Shopping for elbow treatment or surgery:
  • For an elbow injury, visit a general practitioner, who can refer the patient to a specialist if necessary. Or, the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery[9] offers an orthopedic surgeon finder by city, state or zip code. Or, seek treatment from a sports medicine specialist, which could be either a family physician or an orthopedic surgeon; the American Osteopathic Academy of Sports Medicine offers a doctor finder.
  • Risks of surgical treatment include reaction to anesthesia, infection, nerve damage, weakness or lack of flexibility in the affected area and/or inability to straighten the arm, or need for a second surgery.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
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