Arthritis symptoms, diagnosis and cureHealth and Disease information

Arthritis in the Elbow — Symptoms and Treatments (Q&A)

Hi. My name is Dr. Khurram Pervaiz. I am a shoulder, elbow and hand specialist with the Orthopedic Associates of Central Maryland and I work at Howard County General Hospital. Elbow arthritis can be osteoarthritis which is wear and tear arthritis from being active your entire life, it could be from a condition similar to rheumatoid arthritis where an inflammatory process can destroy cartilage and bone inside the elbow or it can be from just years of throwing and overload of the elbow from being a throwing athlete. Elbow arthritis usually presents with pain. One of the hallmarks of elbow arthritis is limitation in motion or stiffness inability to straighten once elbow out all the way. This usually develops over time, takes years or decades to develop and then sometimes clicking and catching inside the elbow, occasionally even numbness and tingling shooting down from the elbow into the hand. Elbow arthritis can be treated in a variety of ways. It can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medication, an occasional cortisone injection. Surgery for elbow arthritis can be an option when you have severe limitation in motion in the elbow, when the elbow is so stiff that it interferes with daily activities, work, job, sports.

Surgery can be an excellent option to regain the motion that you’ve lost in the elbow. Surgery for elbow arthritis involves cleaning out of the elbow joint to remove the bone spurs, remove the degenerative cartilage and to restore motion and to relieve pain from elbow arthritis. Surgery can be performed through open incisions or it can be done arthroscopically through a telescope placed into the elbow. The decision on which approach is used is based on a thorough evaluation by your physician and might be based on how bad your arthritis is and whether or not you have nerve symptoms coming from the arthritis. Recovery can take anywhere from a month to a few months.

Usually after elbow arthritis we have it started immediately. The goal of the rehab is to maintain the motion that is regained at the time of surgery. Again, rehab helps with minimizing swelling and pain and gets you back to your pre-arthritis level of function. After surgery it is imperative to work with a hand therapist or with an elbow therapist because frequently patients have a lot of pain and swelling inside the elbow so that pain and swelling prohibits them from moving their elbow and might lead to recurring stiffness after elbow surgery, so I am very aggressive with post-operative therapy. I send my patients to therapy immediately..

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