Post-Traumatic Elbow Stiffness

Post-Traumatic Elbow Stiffness, also known as elbow contracture, refers to restricted range of motion or reduced flexibility in the elbow joint following a traumatic injury, such as a fracture, dislocation, or severe soft tissue injury. This can lead to significant functional limitations and discomfort in daily activities.


Surgery for Elbow Stiffness

In cases where conservative treatments like physical therapy, splinting, and activity modification have not sufficiently improved elbow stiffness, surgical intervention may be considered. The goal of surgery for elbow stiffness is to release or remove the scar tissue and adhesions that are restricting the joint’s movement, thus restoring flexibility and function.


Arthroscopic Surgery for Elbow Stiffness

Arthroscopic surgery for elbow stiffness, known as arthroscopic capsular release or arthroscopic contracture release, involves using minimally invasive techniques to address the restricted range of motion in the elbow joint. Small incisions are made around the elbow, and an arthroscope is inserted to visualize the joint’s interior. Specialized instruments are then used to release the scar tissue, remove adhesions, and improve the joint’s mobility.


Recovery and Rehabilitation After Elbow Stiffness Release

The recovery and rehabilitation process following elbow stiffness release surgery is focused on gradually restoring range of motion and strength while maintaining the integrity of the healing tissues. Here’s a general timeline and overview of the rehabilitation process:


  • Immediate Postoperative Phase:
    • The elbow is typically immobilized with a splint or brace to protect the surgical site and improve healing.
    • Early range of motion exercises, as guided by the surgeon and physical therapist, are initiated to prevent stiffness and promote joint mobility.
  • Weeks 1-6:
    • The emphasis is on early mobilization and gentle progressive range of motion exercises to prevent stiffness from recurring.
    • Strengthening exercises for the forearm and upper arm muscles are initiated to restore functional strength and stability around the elbow joint.
  • Weeks 6-12:
    • As healing progresses, the rehabilitation program advances to include more aggressive range of motion exercises and functional activities.
    • Gradual reintegration of activities involving the elbow, such as lifting and reaching, is undertaken under the guidance of the medical team.
  • Months 3-6:
    • The focus shifts toward optimizing joint function, strength, and flexibility, as well as a gradual return to normal activities and recreational pursuits.
    • Progressive strengthening exercises and neuromuscular re-education are emphasized to support optimal functional recovery.
  • Long-Term:
    • Full recovery and return to high-impact activities are achieved over several months, with ongoing monitoring to assess joint function, stability, and any potential concerns related to the surgical procedure.


It is crucial for patients to diligently adhere to the prescribed rehabilitation program, attend follow-up appointments, and communicate any difficulties or concerns encountered during the recovery process to optimize the outcome of elbow stiffness release surgery.

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