Elbow Arthritis Surgery

The treatment of elbow arthritis involves a significant commitment of time and expertise by the surgeon, but also demands a tremendous commitment on the part of the patient. Well-informed and well-motivated patients in optimum health are most likely to see the greatest benefits following surgery for elbow arthritis.

The goal of any surgical intervention for elbow arthritis is to restore function by improving motion and minimizing pain. Treatment options must be carefully tailored to the individual patient and are based on age, level of activity, level of general health, and the extent of joint destruction.

These options include:

  • Simple debridement or clearing of the joint of scar tissue and excess bone which limits motion
  • Partial joint replacement
  • Replacement of the entire elbow by a metal joint similar to those used to replace arthritic hips and knees.

These surgeries are all highly technical procedures that require careful preoperative planning, as well as an intimate knowledge of the anatomy and biomechanics of the elbow. In order to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of surgery, each procedure is best undertaken by a surgical team that performs them regularly.

These procedures all have in common the fact that elbow motion is started very soon after the procedure. This is critical to maximize the amount of motion recovered and also to minimize pain. Surgery is often performed under either general or nerve block anesthesia. 

Patients may be discharged from the hospital within 24 to 72 hours, depending on the extent of the procedure as well as level of comfort. Recovery of strength and function often continue for up to a year after surgery.

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