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Loose Body in the Elbow

Treatment for Elbow Pain in Fox Valley

The elbow joint joins three bones, relying on ligaments, tendons, and muscles to stabilize its structure and control movement. The upper arm’s humerus and the two bones of the forearm, the radius, and ulna, meet at the flexible joint. Between bone contacts, cartilage cushions the elbow joint, providing a smooth layer to protect the bone surfaces and help them glide smoothly, without damage.

Occasionally, a piece of bone or cartilage, known as a loose body, floats within the joint. A loose body in the elbow may cause pain, stiffness, and other symptoms.

Cause

Loose body in the elbow may result from fracture or trauma to the joint. Because they are prone to these types of injuries, athletes and active individuals are at increased risk for developing the condition. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and destruction of tissue lining the joint can also cause cartilage or bone fragments to float.

Prolonged participation in overhead activities, like weightlifting and certain work-related motions, increases the risk of developing loose bodies.

Description

When caused by a fracture, a loose body in the elbow may be a large free-floating bone fragment. Other loose bodies are small, containing no bone at all. Depending upon the size and location of the loose body, removal using an orthoscopic procedure can correct the condition. When a large loose body is present, however, a surgeon may recommend fixing it to an adjacent bone. In some cases, it is possible to break-up loose bodies, enabling the human body’s natural enzymes to degrade the remaining material.

Symptoms

A loose body in the elbow may result in these symptoms:

  • Locking
  • Catching
  • Intermittent pain
  • Stiffness

If you are experiencing arm or elbow pain, contact our orthopedic team for an appointment.

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