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Osteoarthritis in the elbow

Osteoarthritis in the elbow is characterized by degeneration of the joint cartilage as a person ages. Injuries to the elbow can damage the cartilage and can develop into arthritis, even years later. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the joint linings to swell. Rheumatoid arthritis destroys the tissues, cartilage and bone in the elbow.

The most common symptoms or signs of arthritis in the elbow are joint pain and stiffness and swelling.

Arthritis in the elbow is diagnosed through a physical exam by our practitioner. The practitioner may order additional imaging to evaluate the arthritic changes.

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Risk factors

Risk factors for elbow osteoarthritis include:

  • Age — although people of all ages can get arthritis, more men develop arthritis than women before age 45 and more women are impacted after the age of 45.
  • Trauma — people who have broken a bone in their hand, wrist or elbow are at a higher risk for developing osteoarthritis.
  • Repetitive movements — people who do jobs or activities that require repetitive movement in the hands are more likely to develop hand, wrist or elbow osteoarthritis.
  • Joint misalignment — Excess joint friction from misaligned bones in the hands, wrists or elbows can wear the cartilage in the hand, wrist or elbow down
  • Instability and weakness in the elbow
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Treatments for arthritis in the elbow

Treatment for arthritis in the elbow depends on the progression of the disease, imaging results and current medical condition.

In early stages, patients can manage the pain with anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and modification of activity levels.

As the disease progresses, the patient may benefit from corticosteroid injections, platelet rich plasma (PRP) treatment, or other non-invasive treatments. In the most severe cases, an elbow replacement may be indicated.

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Recovery from arthritis in the elbow

There is no complete cure for arthritis in the elbow. It is important to work with the practitioner to manage the symptoms to slow the progression of the disease.

The goal of the treatments is to maximize function in the elbow in order to get as much motion in the joint as possible.

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