Elbow Arthritis


If you have elbow arthritis, you may have pain when you bend and straighten your elbow.

There are two common types of arthritis that can develop in the elbow:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)​. This type of arthritis is not only chronic but also symmetrical which means it will affect the same joint on both sides of your body. The lining of our joints called synovium swells which causes pain and stiffness. RA attacks its own tissues making it an autoimmune disease. Since it’s an autoimmune disease, this means our defenses used to protect us from infection are instead used to attack and damage normal tissue and soften bone.
  • Osteoarthritis or Wear and Tear Arthritis.​ This particular arthritis generally affects those over the age of 50 years old. Osteoarthritis destroys the smooth outer covering of the bone. Damaged cartilage is frayed and rough. This decreases the protective space between the bones.

Trauma or an injury can also cause enough damage to the elbow creating the development of arthritis.

You may be experiencing pain, swelling, instability, stiffness, locking, and lack of movement to your elbow.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options

There are several treatments options that don’t require surgery:
  • Avoid Activity. ​ Avoid the activity that’s causing the pain or the repetitive movement of the joint. It’s important to rest the joint after any activity to relieve stress on the joint.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medication.​ Take ibuprofen or naproxen to manage the pain and inflammation.
  • Steroid Injection.​ Get a more powerful anti-inflammatory injection into the elbow in order to relieve your pain and inflammation.
  • Physical Therapy.​ Exercises at home help to maintain the movement needed for daily activities.
  • Ice/Heat.​ Apply warm compresses or ice to your elbow for 20-minute intervals several times a day.
  • Splint. A splint can protect your elbow throughout the day.