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Elbow Overview

Anatomy of the Elbow

The elbow allows the upper arm and forearm bones to connect in a manner enabling flexible arm positioning. Its unique design facilitates bending, straightening, twisting inward and outward – critical motions for placing our hands in space. However, overuse, trauma or arthritis can inflame the elbow joint or damage its surrounding ligaments and cartilage. Significant elbow injury or progressive conditions like untreated tennis elbow may necessitate surgery when conservative treatment fails. Rather than open surgery with a large incision, most elbow procedures today utilize arthroscopy. This employs a pencil-sized camera scope inserted through a tiny portal. The arthroscope projects video inside the joint for closeup visualization allowing surgeons to smoothly repair tissue through other miniature cuts. Patients benefit from less pain, scarring and downtime versus traditional open techniques.

Lateral epicondylitis, often called tennis elbow, arises from overworking the forearm muscles. It specifically involves sore, inflamed tendons attaching to a bony outcropping on the elbow’s exterior lateral epicondyle. This non-articular prominence can be felt as a raised bump on the upper arm bone near the elbow. Repeated forearm motions like gripping lead to microtears and irritation of the tendons connecting wrist/finger extensor muscles to this epicondyle attachment point. Movements in racket sports elicit the condition’s nickname “tennis elbow”, although any activity overtaxing the same forearm muscle tendons can cause lateral epicondylitis too. Resting the affected arm is crucial for healing until elbow inflammation resolves.

Elbow Instability

Elbow instability is a looseness in the elbow joint that may cause the joint to catch, pop, or slide out of place during certain arm movements. It most often occurs as the result of an injury — typically, an elbow dislocation. This type of injury can damage the bone and ligaments that surround the elbow joint. When the elbow is loose and repeatedly feels as if it might slip out of place, it is called recurrent or chronic elbow instability.

The biceps comprise a two-headed upper arm skeletal muscle enabling elbow bending and arm rotation. Tendinous cords anchor each end of the biceps muscle to shoulder and elbow bones. These tendons provide a critical bone attachment site for contracting biceps to mobilize the arm. However, excessive load placed on the long head biceps tendon where it connects the muscle to shoulder socket bones can overstretch and tear the tissue. A partial biceps tendon tear implies the tendon is still partially intact if frayed. In a complete full-thickness tear, the tendon ruptures entirely through its width, becoming two separate pieces, thus losing all integrity and function. Prompt surgical biceps tenodesis normally repairs such full tendon tears successfully.

Tori Homb, APN

Surgical Assistant + Master’s in Family Nurse Practitioning

Tori Homb, originally from  the surrounding Rockford area, graduated from Walden University in 2019 with a Master’s in Family Nurse Practitioning. Tori  has been working alongside Dr. Trenhaile since 2008 in the operating room as a surgical assistant. She has continued her education and transitioned into the advanced practice role as a nurse practitioner and now assists him with formulating diagnoses, treatment plans, as well as providing surgical assistance. Tori helps to manage preoperative and postoperative patient care as well as sports medicine education.  In her spare time she enjoys playing recreational sports such as volleyball, softball, and working out, and running as well as spending time with her husband Shawn, friends, and family. 

Kari Stockton, RN, BSN

Registered Nurse + Bachelor of Science in Nursing

Kari was born and raised in Southern Wisconsin on a dairy farm. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from St. Anthony College of Nursing. Prior to joining Dr. Trenhaile’s team in 2004, Kari worked in the Neuro/Trauma ICU at St. Anthony Medical Center. Kari currently resides in Rockton, Illinois with her husband and enjoys hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities.

Alyssa Fetterhoff
Alyssa Fetterhoff received a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from North Central College. Prior to joining Dr. Trenhaile’s team in 2017, Alyssa worked as a rehab technician at New Millennium Medical in Belvidere, IL. Alyssa aids the Physician Assistants in designing treatment plans, as well as implementing pre- and postoperative patient care.

Dr. Scott Trenhaile

Clinical Assistant Professor/ Orthopaedic Surgeon

Dr. Scott Trenhaile, Orthopaedic Surgeon from Rockford, Illinois, is dedicated to the continuous advancement of healthcare and specialized in knee, shoulder and elbow.

Click to View Dr. Trenhaile’s About Page.

Michael Gilbertson, PAC

Physician Assistant

Michael Gilbertson, a native to Rockford, has been with Dr. Trenhaile’s team as a Physician Assistant since 2004 after graduating from Midwestern University. As part of the sports medicine department, Michael assists Dr. Trenhaile in formulating diagnoses and treatment plans as well as providing surgical assistance. Michael manages all preoperative and postoperative patient education. In his spare time he lives enjoys wakeboarding, hockey and spending time with his wife Kim and children Myles and Kylie.

Ana Holleman

Ana Holleman, has been with Orthoillinois since 2005 working various roles. In 2017 she joined Dr. Trenhaile’s team to be his surgery scheduler. Ana’s key roles in surgery scheduling include setting up medical clearances for patients, notifying the facilities of the procedure and equipment, pre-certifying the surgery with insurance and comforting patients.