What is Elbow Arthritis?
Elbow Arthritis is damage to the cartilage in your elbow joint. This is usually caused by “wear and tear” or injuries. Cartilage provides a smooth and soft surface for the bones to glide upon in the joint, as this wears away the bone rubs on bone, “bone on bone arthritis”, which causes pain and stiffness. Once the cartilage is damaged or worn away there is no way to recover or bring back the cartilage. This will only continue to worsen over time with pain and stiffness progressively getting worse.
What are the symptoms of Elbow Arthritis?
Early elbow arthritis usually presents with pain, which is usually an aching pain which is worse at night. There is usually associated swelling. You may experience locking of the elbow from “loose bodies”. As the Elbow arthritis worsens the pain will worsen and the joint will become very stiff.
How do you treat Elbow Arthritis?
Elbow arthritis is initially treated non operatively with:
If this fails or the arthritis progresses you may need surgery. This is usually an elbow arthroscopy or an Elbow replacement.
What is an Elbow Arthroscopy?
An Elbow arthroscopy is a “keyhole” operation which is performed for multiple reasons, one of which is elbow arthritis. It is often a day procedure in which the elbow joint is debrided of bone spurs, loose bodies and cartilage flaps which usually occur with mild to moderate arthritis. An Elbow arthroscopy can help improve pain and stiffness with elbow arthritis. This is ideal for young and middle aged patients which symptomatic elbow arthritis.
What is an Elbow Replacement (Elbow Arthroplasty)?
An Elbow Replacement is an operation in which the worn-out surfaces of the elbow are replaced with two or three prosthetic implants replicating the hinge joint of the elbow. This is a good operation for older patients with severe elbow arthritis. Elbow replacements are also used for severe elbow fractures in older patients. Elbow replacements usually require a 1-2 night stay in hospital and a sling for 2 weeks.
This replacement provides very good pain relief and provides good range of motion to the elbow.