Elbow Arthritis Surgery


Elbow Arthritis Surgery helps to relieve the pain and restore motion and function back into the elbow.

What is it?

Elbow arthritis caused severe pain and loss of movement in the elbow.  Arthritis breaks down cartilage within the joint.  The cartilage is what cushions and surrounds the end of the bones.  Without cartilage, the ends of bones will rub together, which produces pain and discomfort.  Arthritis surgery can help to get rid of any loose pieces of cartilage and shave down any bone fragments.  Debriding the area can contribute to relieving the symptoms temporarily, but will not heal arthritis completely.  The option for an elbow replacement is the only thing that will give the best chance at a remission from arthritis.

What should I do to prepare?

Preparing for any surgery can be stressful.  It is best to understand and talk with your doctor about what will happen during the surgery and what to expect after it is complete.  Having a family member or close friend with you the day of surgery can help alleviate some stress.  Scans and preoperative testing will be conducted to determine the best approach to relieving the pressure on the elbow.  A patient should not eat or drink after the midnight before surgery.  Rest and immobilization may be necessary post-surgery to help in the healing process.  This may require time off from work and other physical activities.

What happens during the process?

Two main types of procedures are done to help relieve pain caused by arthritis.  The first option is typically arthroscopic debridement.  This approach is minimally invasive and can help provide some relief to pain and lack of motion in the elbow.  A surgeon will make small incisions in the elbow and insert probes that allow them to see and work without having to open the elbow completely.  The doctor will clean out any loose bone or cartilage fragments to help give more space in the joint.  The second option is more invasive and will replace the elbow joint entirely.  The surgeon will remove damaged parts of the elbow and replace them with artificial parts.  This will provide a more permanent reprieve from arthritis, but will have a longer recovery time and poses more risks.

What are the risks and potential complications?

Any surgery involving bones, muscles, or tendons will pose a risk for re-injury or injury to another part of the surrounding area.  Since arthroscopic surgeries are minimally invasive, the risks and complications are lower and less severe. Infections, bleeding, and numbness or tingling are still possible with this surgery.  When it comes to joint replacements, the elbow is one of the most complicated.  This joint replacement tends to wear out quickly, dislocate frequently, and cause damage to the surrounding bones.  Infection, bleeding, injury to other parts of the elbow, and loss of movement in the elbow are associated with elbow replacements.



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