Elbow Arthritis Surgery

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Elbow Arthritis Surgery

Overview

If you have elbow arthritis you may have experienced persistent severe pain and weakness. You may have dealt with these symptoms and now you’re ready to relieve your pain through elbow arthritis surgery.

There are two common types of arthritis in the elbow:

  1. 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 which are normally used to protect us from infection are instead used to attack and damage normal tissue and soften bone.
  2. Osteoarthritis or Wear and Tear Arthritis.​ This particular arthritis generally affects those over the age of 50 years old. Osteoarthritis causes the smooth outer covering of bone to be destroyed. As this cartilage becomes damaged, it’s frayed and rough. This decreases the protective space between the bones.

Trauma or 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.

How to Prepare for Elbow Arthritis Surgery

You will be asked not to eat or drink after midnight the night before your surgery. Stop taking any medications like blood thinners or aspirins in order to prepare for your surgery. You may want to get your home ready since you won’t be able to reach very high cabinets or do activities that may require you to pull. Locate loose shirts that button or zip in the front for you to wear as you recover from surgery.

Procedure  

This surgical procedure is an outpatient surgery which means you can return home the same day of your surgery. During this procedure, we will remove the diseased cartilage, inflamed area, scar tissue, and loose bodies from the elbow. We will also shave bone spurs and fuse the bone in the affected joint. Arthroscopy surgery may be used which is a minimally invasive surgical procedure. Depending on the severity of your arthritis, we may suggest a full elbow replacement allowing us to replace the joint with an artificial joint.

Recovery 

You will be placed in a brace for the first six weeks. After these six weeks, you will be working with a physical therapist on a range of motion and flexibility. Most patients report little to no pain at the end of three months. You can expect a full recovery after six months.

Efficacy

Your diseased cartilage will be removed which will provide a healthy, pain-free elbow.

Complications

There is a risk of infection, blood loss, and nerve damage as with any surgery. Surgery may not completely cure the pain problem. You may still experience pain or the pain has a possibility of returning.

Outlook

Although the pain has a possibility of returning, most patients experience a more painless lifestyle.