Elbow osteoarthritis is a condition that occurs when the cartilage surface of the elbow is worn out or damaged. Elbow osteoarthritis can be caused by previous injuries, like elbow dislocation and fracture, or can be a result of normal wearing of the joint cartilage from age and activity.
The elbow joint is made up of three bones; the humerus in the upper arm, and the radius and ulna in the forearm. Cartilage on the bones protect the elbow joint. Elbow osteoarthritis is when the smooth cartilage surface of the elbow is worn out and the bones of the joint begin to rub against each other.
Elbow arthritis is diagnosed after thorough history and physical exam with your orthopedic provider. X-rays will also be taken to confirm the arthritis and evaluate the severity of the arthritis.
Surgical treatment for Elbow Arthritis includes 1) arthroscopy where a camera is inserted into the elbow joint to remove lose pieces of bone or cartilage. This is performed to improve pain and range of motion. 2) Total Elbow Replacement is also an option which involves removing the damaged joint surfaces and replacing them with artificial components. This is performed to improve pain and elbow function.
Surgery for Elbow Arthritis is generally successful at reducing pain and improving function of the elbow. Physical therapy is an important part of the recover process. This is usually for 2-3 months after surgery to improve range of motion, and to strengthen and stabilize the muscles around the elbow.
**Disclaimer: Treatment recommendations may vary depending on your true diagnosis. Always follow the recommendations of your orthopedic provider.