When Arthritis Affects the Elbow

When Arthritis Affects the Elbow


Although not a frequent occurrence, arthritis in the elbow, mostly caused by rheumatic diseases, affects about one percent of the population. And according to some Seattle Orthopedic surgeons, the sooner the treatment the better. The first sign of problems with the elbow is pain, and it can have many causes. Tennis elbow, bursitis, joint inflammation, a bone disease, or even dislocations are common says orthopedic doctors. Additionally, nerve damage due to mechanical pressure is one of the possible causes of pain, but self-diagnosing then applying home treatments without evaluation from a doctor can result in long-term damage.

An Uncommon Form of Arthritis

Compared to other diseases, rheumatoid arthritis is the most frequent types of arthritis in the elbow joint. It is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the whole body and can generally develop in any joint. It is caused by an immunological process in which the antibodies of the immune system attack and gradually damage and destroy endogenous tissue, such as the elbow joint cartilage. Characteristic complaints include pain in the elbow that radiate through the arm, and there is limited mobility and stiffness, as well as swelling, overheating and redness of the inflamed joint.

If we generalize, it can be said that elbow overload problems occur more frequently in younger people, and arthritic signs of wear often plague the elderly. An arthritic joint is not only more or less painful, especially during exercise or in an acute inflammatory phase. Rather, it is also increasingly limited in its mobility. Because of rheumatism, the diseased joints are swollen, and inflammation is a result of an immune disorder. So, treatment could also include therapy for a chronic inflammatory disease.

Treating Arthritis of the Elbow

For elbow pain, as well as in medicine, the therapy depends on the diagnosis. If there is an underlying disease such as gout or rheumatism, the symptoms usually respond quickly to targeted measures. For example, with acute gout, the pain can be well-resolved with an anti-inflammatory drug. With rheumatic diseases, so-called disease-modifying drugs, in addition to anti-inflammatory drugs are used.

Doctors also suggest physiotherapy that include massage techniques as well as stretching and strengthening exercises. The exercise treatment promotes tissue and tendon repairs, can help correct muscle imbalances, help diminish inflammation, and help prevent further overuse injuries. If the symptoms cannot be adequately alleviated with these conservative treatment methods, operative measures may be required. For example, an arthroscopic cleaning of the elbow joint, in which the already dead, highly inflammatory tissue is removed, or replacing the inflamed elbow joint with an elbow prosthesis.

Can You Recognize an Immediate Problem?

Arthritis caused by more than just deterioration of the cartilage, and pain is not one of the symptoms that appears immediately. Problems manifest themselves in different ways. It could be stiffness or a persistent clicking noise, and then pain. However, the consequences typically affect everyday life. It’s important to take notice of changes in your body and have regular checkups so physicians can develop the correct treatment plan.


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