What is it : If your elbow is not moving as much as your other side or as it was in the past, you may have arthritis. This can happen without any cause or it can happen as a result of an injury you may have had in the past. There is usually pain associated with the stiffness and sometimes this is the first thing you’ll notice. Your GP will usually get an X-Ray or an MRI to assess how much arthritis you have and whether there is anything else that can be causing the pain.
Management : If you have a stiff elbow, simple pain relief, physiotherapy and occasionally a cortisone injection may be of benefit. If the stiffness is still not improving and affecting your function then an operation to release the tight structures and remove some of the bone which may be blocking movement may be needed. It is rare to be able to bring back all your movement, but often we can improve it. If you have severe arthritis and are suitable candidate, then we will offer you a total elbow replacement. These do well to remove the constant arthritic pain, and may give you a small improvement in movement of the elbow.
Post-operative : It is important to try get the elbow moving as soon as possible after a procedure as they get stiff quickly. As soon as comfort allows, we will ask you to start doing simple range of motion exercises with your elbow. If you are finding it difficult to improve your range of movement, a physiotherapist may help.