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Elbow Arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that causes pain and stiffness in your joints. The elbow joint is most commonly affected by osteoarthritis, otherwise known as “wear and tear” arthritis. Those with a history of elbow injury, such as a fracture or ligament injury, often develop osteoarthritis in the elbow; joint wear is accelerated by each. Whether due to a single injury or a combination of activities, elbow instability and pain needs to be addressed.

What causes Elbow Arthritis?

Your risk of elbow arthritis increases with any of the following:

  • Prior elbow injury or surgery
  • Work or activities that place high demands on the elbow
  • Presence of joint cartilage loss
  • The existence of previous ligament damage

How do you know you have Elbow Arthritis?

Common symptoms of elbow arthritis are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Finger numbness
  • Range of motion limitations that include “locking” or “grating”

How does OSI fix Elbow Arthritis?

Your board-certified OSI doctor will listen to you, discuss your concerns, and examine you for signs and symptoms of elbow arthritis. Any of the following may be used to determine the best course of care:

  • Physical exam: Your OSI doctor will discuss your overall medical history, examine your arm, and talk about any previous injuries or symptoms you may have had that might have contributed to your state of elbow arthritis
  • X-rays: Standard X-rays will show arthritic changes in the elbow

Nonsurgical Treatment

Your OSI orthopedic specialist will determine treatment based on a number of factors, including the present stage of the arthritis, prior history, X-ray results, the general medical condition of the patient, as well as what the patient desires. One or more of the following may be recommended:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen) 
  • Physical therapy. Specific exercises can help increase range of motion and flexibility, as well as help strengthen the muscles.
  • Activity Modification. Job and/or leisure activities that potentially aggravate symptoms may necessitate a reduction of these activities.
  • Corticosteroid injections. An alternative to steroids is the injection of hyaluronic acid to improve joint fluid quality.

Surgical Treatment

Your OSI orthopedic specialist may recommend a surgical approach if nonsurgical techniques do not alleviate your symptoms. Arthroscopy, a minimally-invasive surgical option, is used to remove fragmented bone and cartilage, along with any degenerative tissue or bone spurs.