Arthritis of the Elbow
Although the elbows are not weight-bearing joints, they are considered 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.
Signs and Symptoms of Elbow Arthritis
Elbow arthritis is an inflammatory condition that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and interference with arm use.
Causes of Elbow Arthritis
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 Arthritis
There are several types of arthritis, the most common being:
- Osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis that affects older adults. It causes the cartilage, the tissue that cushions and protects the ends of bones in a joint, to wear off, causing painful rubbing of the 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 the 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 due to psoriasis, a scaling skin disorder.
Diagnosis of Elbow Arthritis
A thorough physical examination and X-ray diagnose arthritis in the elbow.
Treatment Options for Elbow Arthritis
Treatment can include conservative options such as medications and steroid injections to relieve pain, activity modification, and splints. Surgery is usually considered if non-surgical treatment fails to offer relief. Total elbow replacement is a surgical procedure used to restore function and relieve the pain in the elbows affected by arthritis. In total elbow replacement surgery, the damaged regions of the elbow joint are replaced with artificial components.