In osteoarthritis of the elbow, the cartilage deteriorates in the joint, and the once smooth surface loses its ability to prevent shock to the joint and bone rubs against bone. This causes swelling, pain, weakness. Osteoarthritis can develop from wear and tear from age, from a prior injury, or from excessive, repetitive use.
- Pain in elbow
- Loss of movement
- Sensation of catching or grinding in elbow
- Swelling may appear
- Tingling and/or numbness may be present
The doctor may recommend modifying activity, or following a prescribed exercise program, to help relieve pain and swelling. Supplements such as glucosamine or chondroitin may have some benefits for osteoarthritis.
Medication can address symptoms of arthritis, but cannot cure the underlying cartilage and joint damage. Most commonly anti-inflammatory medications are used to decrease swelling and pain.
While injections cannot cure the underlying arthritis, Corticosteroid injections to the affected portion of the elbow can provide short-term pain relief and reduced inflammation in the joint, when medication is ineffective or not an option.
A variety of surgical procedures can provide long-term pain relief and mobility, when non-operative treatment is no longer an option. Depending on the progression of damage, surgery options include arthroscopy to remove loose bone pieces and inflamed tissue, open procedures to clean out the joint or joint replacement to provide pain relief and restore joint mobility.
Certified Hand Therapists work closely with doctors to create a customized therapy and rehabilitation program to restore function in the elbow. They equip patients with the materials and exercises they need to maximize recovery.