Elbow Arthritis

Elbow arthritis, or osteoarthritis of the elbow, typically occurs in the over 55's who have been suffering elbow pain on and off for many years.

What is Elbow Arthritis?

Elbow arthritis, or osteoarthritis of the elbow, typically occurs in the over 55's who have been suffering elbow pain on and off for many years. The pain eventually becomes so great that it:

  • Becomes a constant, hot, joint pain
  • Limits movement in the elbow joint
  • Affects the ability to sleep

This type of arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a condition whereby wear and tear damage is caused to the shiny surface of the elbow joint. Since the body can't repair damaged joint surfaces, instead, it reacts with an inflammatory response which leads to ongoing destruction of the joint and the muscles, tendons and ligaments around it.

Early onset arthritis often begins after traumatic injury, disrupting the normal joint surface sooner than normal wear and tear. 

Rheumatoid arthritis or RA, is an autoimmune condition suspected to be triggered by certain viruses or bacteria. RA affect joints by eating away the joint surface, disfiguring the shape of the joint and causing joint swelling, tenderness, warmth and loss of movement.

If you have suffered an elbow injury or simply wish to minimise the risk of arthritis, you need to understand your condition and what simple steps you need to take to optimise your health. Dr Manish Gupta is a highly regarded shoulder expert and can customise an arthritis avoiding strategy for you.

Elbow Pain? You need an Elbow Expert!

If you suspect serious injury or your pain won't subside like it should, you need a thorough diagnosis to understand what condition you may have.

Dr Manish Gupta is an experienced Orthopaedic consultant specialising in Shoulder and can offer you the very best diagnosis and treatment advice for your condition. Call 02 9687 8344 to make your booking or use our online booking form here;

 

Symptoms

Depending on the length of time someone has suffered elbow arthritis, they may experience the following symptoms;

  • Constant elbow pain during the day
  • Elbow pain at night causing disruption to sleep
  • Increased pain and tender with touch
  • Loss of elbow movement
  • Loss of elbow strength
  • Increased elbow stiffness
  • Depression

Causes

Elbow arthritis is the body's reaction to damage of the shiny smooth surface of the elbow joint. Arthritis itself causes further joint damage and the deterioration of surrounding structures.

In osteoarthritis, excessive wear and tear causes damage to the joint surface, often by undertaking elbow activities which are repetitive or heavy loaded. Joints affected by this kind of condition are usually isolated to one side of the body.

Arthritis of the elbow may also get names like post traumatic arthritis where disruption of the joint surface accelerates arthritis.

Different to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or RA, is an autoimmune disease which doctors believe is caused by trigger factors such as infection by viruses or bacteria. Once triggered, RA slowly attacks the lining of joint surfaces and leading to joint destruction and deterioration of surrounding structures.

Sports Injuries Causing Elbow Arthritis

Early onset of elbow arthritis may commence after sports injuries like;

  • Dislocated elbow
  • Fractured elbow joint
  • Fractured radial head at the elbow

The more the injury disrupts the shiny joint surface, the higher the risk of developing elbow arthritis.

Heavy sports like weightlifting, gymnastics and crossfit risk elbow dislocation, while contact sports like rugby, AFL, NRL and skateboarding may cause fractures of the elbow and early onset of elbow arthritis.

Workplace Injury Causing Elbow Arthritis

Accidents at work may cause elbow joint injury. Once you suffer injury to the shiny joint surface, you are at risk of early onset arthritis of the elbow.

Dr Gupta runs regular sports injury clinics and workers injury clinics to evaluate your condition and provide you with a plan to minimise your risk of the effects of elbow arthritis. Make an online booking here to see Dr Gupta about the state of your current shoulder condition;

Diagnosis

Diagnosing shoulder arthritis is a multi-step procedure:

  • Taking a history of the patient's condition
  • Determining if it was caused by traumatic injury, impact, collision or fall
  • Determining if it was gradual onset injury made worse by repetitive movements
  • Understanding the injury in the context of the patient's age and need to use their elbow again quickly

A physical examination will then be performed whereby the location of pain, stability and function of the elbow will be ascertained. Elbow arthritis is often painful at rest with increasing pain through movement. Movement tests will determine if there is any undue clicking or cracking which may suggest the presence of arthritis. A comparison to the patient's non affected side is always useful to determine the patient's sense of normal.

Imaging such as X-Ray and MRI are used to determine the severity of the condition.

Diagnosis and early treatment of elbow arthritis is extremely important to minimise the condition and maximise the treatment options available.

Moderate Elbow Arthritis

Typically suffered by patients under the age of 55, who have had elbow pain on and off for many years, made worse by movement and leaning on the elbow. Some clicking and cracking may be associated with various movement tests. X-Ray and MRI will confirm the severity of the condition.

Severe Elbow Arthritis

A serious condition, suffered by patients over 65, who have had constant elbow pain for many years made worse by movement and leaning on the elbow. Grinding, clicking, and cracking is associated with elbow movement. X-Ray and MRI will confirm the severity of the condition. 

If you are suffering constant elbow pain, you need an elbow expert. Dr Gupta is an elbow specialist and can be contacted on 02 9687 8344 or book an online appointment to see him here;

Treatment

Treatment of elbow arthritis should always begin with a thorough diagnosis of your condition to understand the severity of the condition in the context of your age, your sport, your work and your life.

Non-Surgical

Moderate elbow arthritis may be treated non-surgically using;

  • Rest
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Modification of activities causing wear and tear
  • Physiotherapy treatment for improved strength, better posture and function

However, depending on the functional requirement of your elbow, like social sporting activities like golf or tennis or work activities like painting, you may require treatment which delivers a greater effect and so surgery may be right for you.

Surgical

Surgical treatment for elbow arthritis should be considered in patients who have severe night pain that is affecting their sleep and loss of function affecting their activities of daily living and the quality of their life. Dr Manish Gupta uses a range of surgical procedures to treat elbow arthritis so you can be sure you are getting the procedure that's right for you.

There are different surgical operations available to suit your age and physiology:

Partial Elbow Replacement

Operation which restores part of the elbow complex (55-65 year olds)

Total Elbow Replacement

Operation which replaces the total anatomy of the elbow (65+ year olds)

Post Operative Rehab Treatment

Dr Gupta uses a proven rehabilitation process for each of his operative procedures. Find out more about our rehab here at our Post-Op Elbow Replacement Protocol Page. 

Elbow arthritis is a very painful and debilitating condition. If you would like to know more about what you can do to prevent elbow arthritis or what you can do about it, Dr Manish Gupta is available to help you.

For bookings, please call us on 02 9687 9344, or make an online booking below to secure an appointment with a professional.