Osteoarthritis of the Elbow

Although the elbows are not weight-bearing joints, they are considered to be most important for the functioning of the upper limbs. Hence, even minor trauma or disease affecting the elbow may cause pain and limit the movements of the upper limbs. Arthritis is one of the common disease conditions affecting the elbow joint.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the elbow

It is an inflammatory condition that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and interference with the use of the arm.

Causes of osteoarthritis of the elbow

Arthritis can affect all ages but is most commonly seen in people aged over 40 years. The most common cause is wear-and-tear. Apart from that, traumatic injuries, fractures and dislocations make you more susceptible to arthritis.

Types of osteoarthritis of the elbow

There are several types of arthritis, the most common being the following:

  • Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis that affects older people. It causes the cartilage, the tissue that cushions and protects the ends of bones in a joint, to wear off, causing painful rubbing of bones.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy joints, tissues and organs. It can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, deformity and loss of function in joints.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis develops after an injury to the elbow. The condition may develop years after the trauma such as a fracture, severe sprain or ligament tears.
  • Psoriatic arthritis occurs in some, as a result of psoriasis, a scaling skin disorder.

Diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the elbow

Arthritis in the elbow is diagnosed through a thorough physical exam and X-ray.

Treatment of osteoarthritis of the elbow

Treatment can include conservative options such as medications and steroid injections to relieve pain, activity modification, and use of splints. Surgery is usually considered if nonsurgical treatment fails to provide relief. Total elbow replacement is a surgical procedure used to restore the function and relieve pain in the elbows affected by arthritis. In total elbow replacement surgery, the damaged regions of the elbow joint are replaced with artificial components.