Degenerative pathology (arthrosis) of the elbow

What is arthrosis of the elbow?

The degenerative pathology or arthrosis results from the loss of cartilage that lines the bones in the joints, which begin to rub against each other. Any joint in the body can develop arthrosis and the elbow is one of the joints less affected, thanks to its strong ligaments that stabilize it.

Anyone can develop arthrosis of the elbow, but some are more likely to develop it, by lifestyle, occupation or leisure activities. It usually affects men who develop strenuous manual labor, patients with a history of fracture or injury to the elbow, elderly or patients with a history of pathology in the family.


What symptoms does a patient experience with arthrosis of the elbow?

In addition to pain, particularly aggravated by movement, the symptoms of arthrosis of the elbow include stiffness, difficulty in mobilizing the elbow, including blockages, sensation of instability and swelling of the elbow (in more severe cases).


How do I know if I have arthrosis of the elbow?

In addition to clinical evaluation based on history and physical examination, elbow radiography helps establish the diagnosis.


What is the treatment?

The treatment is based in restricting activities that overload the joint, analgesic and anti-inflammatory medication and physiotherapy.

When the conservative approach is not effective in controlling the symptoms, surgery may be indicated, which may include:

  • Synovectomy: removal of the synovial membrane (which coats the joint) and whose inflammation is often the cause of pain complaints
  • Arthroscopy: to debride fibrous tissues or excised osteophytes (bone spurs), as well as small bone or cartilaginous intra-articular small bodies
  • Osteotomy: removal of small sections of bone to improve symptoms and decrease bone friction between joint surfaces
  • Arthroplasty: the surgeon replaces the cartilage with artificial prosthesis, in extreme and very serious situations.