Most elbow injuries heal on their own after the elbow has been stabilized in a sling or a brace. Some even get better after a few applications of the RICE technique, which is rest, icing, compression and elevation coupled with physical therapy. The elbow is also a common site for forms of arthritis. But sometimes an elbow injury does not improve with these conservative treatments and seems to get worse. The pain and inflammation of arthritis in an elbow can make performing daily tasks almost impossible. In those cases, it may be time for surgery.
Are There Different Types of Elbow Surgary?
There are several kinds of elbow surgery. They include synovectomy, elbow interpositional arthroplasty, arthroscopic debridement, total elbow replacement and open reduction and internal fixation.
During this procedure, the surgeon removes the membrane that cushions and lubricates the elbow joint. This membrane is called the synovium and often becomes painful and inflamed with inflammatory types of arthritis. Eventually, the cartilage around the elbow starts to erode. This operation is best done before the cartilage starts to show damage. Synovectomy isn’t a cure for the condition because the membrane grows back after a while and can become inflamed again. However, the operation can be performed more than once.
Elbow Interpositional Arthroplasty
With arthritis, the cartilage that cushions the space between the joints in your elbow starts to break down, even to the point where bare bones are rubbing against each other. Elbow interpositional arthroplasty corrects this by using soft tissue harvested from elsewhere in your body and placing it between the bones. It greatly reduces pain while allowing you to regain movement of their elbow.
This elbow surgary is used to remove bone spurs and bits of cartilage and bone. Sometimes the doctor also removes the head of the radius, which is the shorter and more slender of the lower arm bones. This surgery is done for people who are suffering some stiffness and pain from osteoarthritis and arthritis due to trauma. It is not indicated for patients who are in a lot of pain or whose arthritis is very advanced. Most people who have arthroscopic debridement see a great reduction in pain and stiffness in their elbow.
Elbow Replacement Surgery
In this surgery, your elbow or parts of the joint are replaced by prosthetics. This surgery is chosen when none of the other surgeries have worked on a permanent basis, if the inflammatory arthritis has reached its end stage and if the elbow has been damaged beyond the ability to repair it. The prosthetic can be linked or unlinked. Linked prosthetics are joined by a pin while the stability of unlinked prosthetics are left to the tissues, ligaments, tendons and muscles found around the elbow.
Open Reduction and Internal Fixation
Surgery for fractures of the elbow are called for when bone has pierced the skin or the bones have been displaced. The surgeon repositions, or reduces the broken pieces and stabilizes them with wires, screws, pins or metal plates. Sometimes these devices can be seen on the outside of the arm.
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POSMC is a full-service medical facility specializing in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. The practice is led by a group of 11 board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Contact us today!