Elbow Arthritis Surgery
By the time arthritis is observed on an X-ray, significant wear or damage has occurred on the joint surfaces. If the wear or damage is limited, arthroscopy can offer a minimally invasive surgical treatment. It may be an option for patients with earlier stages of arthritis. Arthroscopy has been shown to relieve symptoms in the short term. It involves removing any loose bodies or inflammatory/degenerative tissue in the joint. It also attempts to smooth out irregular surfaces. Multiple small incisions are used to perform the surgery. It can be done as an outpatient procedure, and recovery is reasonably rapid. If the joint surface has worn completely, it is unlikely that anything other than a joint replacement would bring about relief. There are several different types of elbow joint replacement available. With the appropriate patient, the improvement in pain and function can be dramatic. With an experienced surgeon, the results for elbow joint replacement can be as good as those for hip and knee replacement. For patients too young or too active to have joint replacement, there are other reasonable surgical options. If loss of motion is the primary symptom, the surgeon can release the contracture and smooth the joint surface. Sometimes, a new surface may be constructed from the patient’s own body tissues. These procedures can provide years of relief.