Arthritis of Elbow
Arthritis of Elbow occurs when the cartilage in the elbow becomes worn or damaged. Damage can occur from overuse due to age and repetitive activities, or as a result of an injury, such as a fracture or dislocation. Elbow arthritis can be extremely painful and can interfere with daily tasks that involve bending your arm. If elbow pain is making it harder to do things like carry groceries, play tennis, or swing a hammer, arthritis might be to blame.
Elbow Arthritis Symptoms
You may notice:
- A clicking or snapping feeling
- Symptoms that are worse on the outside of the joint
- More pain when you rotate or extend your arm
- Trouble moving your elbow
- The joint locks up or gives out when you move it
- Tingling in your elbow
- Numbness in your ring and pinky fingers
Causes for Arthritis of Elbow
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common cause of elbow arthritis. The long-term disease makes your immune system attack the lining of your joints, causing pain, swelling, and inflammation. It often affects joints on both sides of your body. So it could be the culprit if both elbows ache.
Osteoarthritis is more common in weight-bearing joints such as your knees and hips, but it can also affect your elbows. Osteoarthritis happens when you lose the cartilage that cushions the joints, causing the bones to rub together. That can come from too much wear and tear on the joint after you make the same movements over and over, such as during sports or work. It can also happen because of injuries, including a dislocation or fracture, which can wear down the cartilage. This is called post-traumatic arthritis.
If you have psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis can cause pain and inflammation in your joints, including the elbow. Not everyone with psoriasis gets psoriatic arthritis.
This is a group of diseases that affect children 16 or younger. Doctors aren’t sure what causes them.
With lupus, your immune system attacks your own tissues, including your joints. It most often affects your hands and feet, but it can also involve your elbows.
Orthopedic Specialist will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam to look for signs of swelling, redness, and tenderness around the elbow joint. They’ll check how well you can move the joint. They may order imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs.
Treatment for Arthritis of Elbow
It may help to cut back on certain activities or sports. Or you could rest your elbow after exercise to relieve stress.
Heating pads can loosen stiff joints or relax muscles. Ice eases symptom flare-ups and swelling.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen and naproxen, ease pain, inflammation, and swelling. If necessary, your doctor might prescribe stronger drugs or shots of cortisone, a steroid that can ease pain for a few months.
You might need surgery if other treatments don’t work. Procedures for arthritis include:
- Arthroscopy. Your doctor makes a few small cuts around the joint and inserts thin instruments through them to take out pieces of bone, cartilage, or damaged tissue. They can also smooth out rough surfaces. Because of the size of the cuts, this procedure usually has the fastest recovery time.
- Synovectomy. The doctor makes a larger cut to remove bone spurs or damaged areas from the lining of the joint (called the synovium).
- Arthroplasty. In severe cases, you might have the elbow joint replaced with an artificial joint.