What is Elbow Arthritis?

Arthritis is a chronic condition characterized by the inflammation of joints due to age and/or injury. Arthritis of the elbow is generally caused by osteoarthritis (“wear and tear” of the joint) or rheumatoid arthritis (an immune system disorder where the body attacks its own cartilage). Typical symptoms of elbow arthritis may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Catching or locking of the elbow

Although arthritis can not be cured, numerous treatment options are used to help manage symptoms.

How is Arthritis of the Elbow Treated?

When elbow arthritis is diagnosed and treated early, nonsurgical treatment options are very effective. They include:

  1. Activity modification. Slowing down or stopping activities that involve painful movements.
  2. A removable strap, brace, or splint.
  3. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Medications that decrease inflammation and pain.
  4. Physical therapy. Stretching and strengthening exercises.
  5. Corticosteroids.

Cases of severe elbow arthritis may require surgery. A total elbow replacement is a procedure where a Dr. Donnelly removes arthritic bone and replaces it with metal and plastic components—creating a new, non-arthritic joint.