What is Elbow Arthritis?
Arthritis of the elbow occurs most commonly over time. Arthritis can be a result of overuse, prior injury such as fracture or cartilage defects, age or degenerative disease. Elbow arthritis is very similar to that of arthritis in other joints. Overtime, the smooth surfaces of the ends of bone in the elbow called cartilage (shiny, super slick covering) become worn out and expose soft bone underneath. This is where the term “Bone on Bone Arthritis” comes from. This can become very painful.
Symptoms of Arthritis of the Elbow
Elbow arthritis symptoms range from mild to severe. Symptoms will begin gradually and become worse over time. Elbow joint pain, swelling, stiffness, joint locking, redness, and warmth as well as an overall difficulty in movement of the elbow area are all common symptoms associated with elbow arthritis.
Treatments for Arthritis of the Elbow
Rest is the most important recommendation. For individuals suffering from elbow arthritis, over-use of the joint almost always worsens the symptoms. Many patients can live with the symptoms for years and will only need to take pain medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs. Overall, there are very few conservative options to mitigate pain. Arthritis is a degeneration of cartilage and currently there is no way to halt, slow or restore it. For those who experience chronic elbow arthritis symptoms and whose arthritis continues to worsen, surgery is available.
Arthritis in the very early stages can be controlled and treated with arthroscopic, minimally invasive debridement techniques. During this procedure, we trim out and remove the inflamed and degenerative tissue and loose bodies within the joint. Arthroscopic treatment for elbow arthritis will not cure the arthritic condition, but it will prolong more drastic measures (like elbow replacement surgery) and relieve many of the symptoms for an unknown amount of time. Unfortunately, once arthroscopic surgeries are no longer helpful, an elbow replacement could be your next consideration to restore the function of the elbow and eliminate pain.
If you are having elbow pain, stiffness, locking or catching please contact my office for a further evaluation and assessment of the elbow joint.
Please watch the video below and click here (and on the next page choose “Arthroscopic Debridement of the Elbow”) for more information.