Elbow stiffness and arthritis

Arthritis (wear and tear) is not as common in the elbow as it is in other joints, such as the knee and the hip.  However, it can cause significant pain as well as restriction in the movement of the joint.  It can usually be diagnosed with a specialist elbow examination and x-ray.

Stiffness may be a problem without arthritis in the joint and is usually the consequence of a previous injury to the elbow.

If the joint is painful and restricted, then an operation may be necessary.  In younger patients the joint can be cleaned up as a day-case operation, either with a small open (scar) operation or by keyhole surgery.  The ExeterElbow surgeons each perform around 12 of these operations each year.  The operation takes around 6-12 weeks to recover from.

If the patient is over the age of 65 or suffers from Rheumatoid arthritis and the joint is heavily worn, an elbow replacement may be required.  This involves replacement of the worn bones by a metal and specialised plastic replacement.  The ExeterElbow surgeons performs around 12 of these replacements each year. The procedure usually requires a one or two night stay in hospital and recovery takes 2 to 3 months. In order to get the best result, it is advised that the elbow is put into a splint at night for 6 weeks post operatively.