Elbow arthritis is a common and often progressive condition in which the cartilage that normally lines the surface of the elbow joint is compromised and eventually worn completely away as a result of injury, overuse, or through inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. While this progressive destruction of the elbow joint may be associated with pain, it also commonly leads to significant stiffness about the elbow. The elbow’s normal range of motion is severely limited making it difficult for individuals to use their arm to carry out normal daily functions.
The surgeon skilled in treating the spectrum of degenerative conditions affecting the elbow will first spend time with a patient discussing the history of their symptoms, and how their elbow limits them in performing the activities that are important to them. This is followed by a careful clinical examination of the entire extremity from the neck to the fingertips. The goal is not only to determine the extent of destruction and dysfunction of the elbow, but to also determine whether other complicating conditions are present that would impact treatment for the elbow.