Elbow osteoarthritis is the wear and tear with subsequent degeneration of the elbow joint. This can manifest as a painful and stiff elbow with resultant loss of elbow function. The stiffness can be severe, and limit daily activities such as washing one’s face and eating.
Elbow osteoarthritis may arise from a purely degenerative process. More commonly though, it may result following previous significant trauma to the elbow such as fractures or dislocations.
Treatment for elbow osteoarthritis is centered around reducing the pain and improving the elbow flexibility. It is not possible to cure osteoarthritis. Quite often, physiotherapy can help improve the symptoms.
Should elbow stiffness be severely limiting one’s elbow function, an arthroscopic (keyhole) procedure can be performed to release the tight capsule around the elbow joint, as well as to remove large prominent bone spurs that are impinging and blocking full movement.
In more severe cases, an open (non-keyhole) operation may be able to restore more flexibility to the elbow as compared to a keyhole procedure.
Elbow joint replacements are an option for older patients.
This involves replacing the damaged elbow joint with an artificial joint, and this can provide good pain relief and improvement to elbow flexibility.
However, elbow replacements do have problems as well. Patients with elbow replacements need to restrict how much weight they can carry with that arm in order to prevent the joint from failing early.
Elbow replacements also do not last as long as other artificial joints in the body, and may hence need to be revised if they wear out or loosen over time.
Consult your doctor for a more detailed and comprehensive discussion on the pros and cons of each treatment option.
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