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Elbow Osteoarthritis

We Help Patients Find Long-Term Solutions

Osteoarthritis is an uncomfortable, degenerative condition affecting joints. Although it can occur across the entire body, “wear and tear” arthritis frequently affects the neck, hips, finger joints, and knees. Overall, osteoarthritis is less common in the elbow than it is in weight-bearing joints, but the degenerative disease can set-in when elbow tissue becomes worn or damaged.

Symptoms of Elbow Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis symptoms appear when cartilage at the elbow joint becomes less effective cushioning the bones’ contact. Pain and inflammation result, sometimes limiting movement in the affected joint. As the degenerative condition worsens, elbow surfaces become rough, leading to bone spurs, nerve involvement and other complications.

  • Pain
  • Loss of range of motion
  • A “grating” or “locking” sensation in elbow
  • Joint swelling may eventually occur
  • In later stages, numbness in ring finger and small finger
  • Elbow may stiffen into a position where it is bent

Causes of Elbow Osteoarthritis

Acute injury and age are principal risk factors for developing wear and tear arthritis. Under normal circumstances, the bones of the elbow are cushioned by cartilage and soft tissue, relying on muscles, tendons and ligaments to keep the structure aligned. The cartilage assists fluid movement, providing an even contact surface for bones.

Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in the elbow joint sustains acute damage or deteriorates, over time. As elbow arthritis progresses, the material loses its ability to cushion the contact, and bone surfaces no longer glide smoothly at the joint.

Possible causes of elbow arthritis include:

  • Age – The tissue surrounding elbow bones degrades over time, increasing the risk for irritation, inflammation and wear and tear arthritis. Though it is possible to develop arthritis at a young age, most cases cause symptoms beyond age 50.
  • Elbow Injuries – Elbow dislocation or fracture may increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis. A history of sports-related trauma or overuse, for instance, may cause osteoarthritis in aging athletes.
  • Overall Health – Weight-bearing joints are particularly vulnerable to arthritis, so maintaining a healthy body weight can alleviate symptoms in the hips and knees. Proper rest, nutrition and hydration help manage symptoms of osteoarthritis.
  • Family History – Those with a family history of joint problems may be predisposed to developing osteoarthritis

If you believe you have osteoarthritis, learn more about treatment options now. Call (630) 584-1400 to schedule an appointment.