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Elbow Arthritis

What is Elbow Arthritis?

Elbow arthritis is a condition where the smooth cartilage lining of the two bone ends that make a joint become worn and damaged. The two bones no longer glide smoothly over each other. Instead, when they rub together it can cause pain. Over time bone spurs (osteophytes) can form around the joint as part of the arthritis process. These spurs can physically prevent the joint from moving a normal amount. In the elbow, these spurs can produce pain when they pinch against each other as you bend or straighten your elbow. 

Elbow arthritis can be the result of a previous injury (such as a fracture), an inflammatory condition (rheumatoid arthritis, gout etc), or for no obvious reason (primary osteoarthritis). 

Symptoms of Elbow Arthritis

Elbow arthritis is not always symptomatic. In some cases, the only symptom a patient may notice is that the elbow cannot fully straighten. In other cases, the pain only occurs at the extremes of elbow movement when the bone spurs engage against each other.

Advanced cases will have persistent pain that is present whenever the elbow is moved. Elbow arthritis can also lead to the development of ulnar nerve problems as the nerve can be compressed against nearby bone spurs.

Treatment for Elbow Arthritis

Most cases of elbow arthritis do not require any treatment. If you have tried non-operative treatment but still have persistent symptoms of elbow arthritis then you may benefit from surgery. Surgery for elbow arthritis includes elbow arthroscopy, elbow replacement and ulnar nerve surgery.