Elbow ArthroplastyElbow arthroplasty, or elbow replacement surgery, uses a prosthesis to relieve constant joint pain when other treatments can’t. Chronic elbow pain or limited mobility in the joint are typically treated with physical therapy or medication. But when a patient’s symptoms won’t respond to conservative treatment, elbow arthroplasty may be considered. Also known as elbow replacement surgery, this procedure can bring pain relief and restore some mobility through the use of a prosthetic device.
Elbow arthroplasty can be used to treat several degenerative diseases and injury-related conditions affecting the elbow, such as:
- Osteoarthritis, which can degrade the cartilage around the joint over time
- Rheumatoid arthritis, in which the body’s immune system causes chronic joint inflammation that can damage cartilage
- Severe elbow fractures, or post-traumatic arthritis that may develop after sustaining an injury
- Tennis elbow, which is caused by overuse of tendons in the joint area nearest to the forearm
- Tumors in or near the elbow
Elbow arthroplasty can involve partial or total joint replacement, depending on the nature of a patient’s condition. In the event that the entire joint needs to be replaced, the ends of both bones that come together in the joint (humerus and ulna) are removed and the section of the artificial joint are inserted into the bones. Some elbow prostheses are linked, consisting of one hinged piece, while others are unlinked, made up of two pieces that are kept together by the elbow’s ligaments.
What to Expect
After surgery, patients may need to stay in the hospital for one to two days while their condition is monitored. Potential risks of elbow replacement include:
- Nerve damage
With physical therapy and proper care, patients can expect to partially recover from an elbow arthroplasty and resume some everyday tasks in around three months. Complete recovery can take up to a year and patients are encouraged to not lift anything heavier than seven pounds so as not to dislocate or damage the artificial joint.
Elbow arthroplasty can relieve pain and provide increased range of motion for most patients, allowing them to resume most of their normal activities. The board-certified and fellowship-trained surgeons at Tampa General Hospital’s Orthopaedic Institute provide world-class treatment and care for patients who elect elbow replacement surgery or other orthopaedic procedures.