Elbow arthritis

Elbow arthritis generally involves the elbow joint particularly the bone, cartilage and the soft tissue that surrounds the muscles, joint and tendons. In most cases, arthritis increases with age.

If an individual is initially affected, most experience pain and rigidity in the affected joint or limb.

What are the causes?

Various factors can lead to the development of elbow arthritis. Some of the usual causes that might be linked with the condition include:

  • Sports injuries – post-traumatic elbow arthritis is likely to develop among those who sustained joint injuries during contact or high-impact sports.
  • Certain occupations – certain occupations that involve a set of repetitive movement for extended periods are at risk.
  • Family history
  • Obesity – excess body weight linked with obesity can lead to increased pressure on the joints.

    Adequate rest where the individual must avoid any form of physical activity until the symptoms fully settle.

What are the indications?

Always bear in mind that arthritis is a gradually progressive ailment that becomes worse over time.

The usual signs linked with elbow arthritis include:

  • Evident elbow pain and tenderness
  • Swollen tissues around the joint
  • Rigidity and diminished range of motion
  • Development of bone spurs around the joint

Management of elbow arthritis

The treatment for elbow arthritis is based on the root cause and can include both conservative and surgical options.

In most cases, conservative measures are utilized first before the surgical options. Nevertheless, there are cases where the doctor might opt for the surgical approach especially if the symptoms could not be managed with the conservative measures.

The conservative measures that can help lessen the pain and improve the range of motion include:

  • Adequate rest where the individual must avoid any form of physical activity until the symptoms fully settle.
  • Application of cold and heat to lessen the pain and swelling in the joint.
  • Brace or splint might be used to keep the elbow joint immobilized especially while sleeping.
  • Pain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) might be given to lessen the pain and swelling in the elbow joint.
  • Viscosupplementation therapy
  • Corticosteroids
  • Cryotherapy is a treatment option that involves the use of cold temperatures to lessen the pain and swelling.
  • Steroid shots are given to provide brief relief to the symptoms
  • Physical therapy

In case surgical intervention is needed, the doctor might perform elbow resection arthroplasty, hemiarthroplasty and even total elbow arthroplasty.


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