What is it?
Arthritis in the elbow is much less common than arthritis to the hip or knee but no less troublesome.
It is quite a different problem too, with the most significant aspect being prolific growth of bony spurs (osteophytes) around the elbow joint as well as wear of the joint surfaces.
As a result of this pattern of arthritis, restriction of movement is the most common symptom, often impairing the simplest of activities of daily living.
Occasionally the bony spurs can break off and get caught in the joint causing locking and jamming. Rest and night pain indicate more advanced symptoms and can be quite debilitating.
For those patients where movement is restricted, restoration of that is the mainstay of treatment.
Physiotherapy can be helpful but is limited and often surgery (keyhole or open) in the form of an Osteo-Capsular release is required to remove the bony spurs and release the tight internal tissue.
Some patients may also benefit from immediate postoperative inpatient physiotherapy to maximize the results of surgery.
For patients with reduced movement and debilitating pain, not responding to non-operative treatment, partial or total elbow replacement is indicated.