Most elbow problems are caused by overuse, injury, or wear and tear associated with age.
The elbow is a hinged joint made up of three bones, the humerus or upper arm bone, the ulna, and the radius. Cartilage covers the bones where they meet to form the joint. It is a smooth substance that acts as a shock absorber and protects the bones. Another tissue called the synovial membrane lubricates the cartilage and thus greatly reduces friction.
The elbow also contains muscles, ligaments, and nerves.
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What is elbow arthroscopy?
Elbow arthroscopy is a procedure in which the surgeon inserts an arthroscope, a type of small camera, into the elbow joint to diagnose a condition and then guide the surgeon while they perform various operations. The doctor is likely to recommend elbow arthroscopy if the patient has a painful condition that hasn’t responded to less invasive treatments.
Examples of conditions that can be treated with elbow arthroscopy include osteoarthritis, tennis elbow, and rheumatoid arthritis. The surgeon may also perform elbow arthroscopy to remove bone or cartilage fragments or to improve range of motion by releasing scar tissue.
The doctor will usually administer general anesthesia, plus intravenous antibiotics to prevent infection. They will inject the joint with fluid to make it easier to see the treatment site. They will then make a few small incisions so they can insert the arthroscope and various surgical instruments.
After completing the procedure, the doctor will bandage or stitch the wound closed and then cover it with a soft absorbent dressing.
How do you treat a broken elbow?
The exact treatment for a broken elbow will depend on a number of factors, like the location and severity of the break. For example, if the patient has multiple breaks or a compound fracture with part of a bone sticking out, surgery will usually be the only option. In other cases, the doctor will reset the bones and then splint the patient’s arm to hold everything in place while the injury heals over the next few weeks. The doctor will also provide painkillers and antibiotics.
The doctor will start by examining the patient. In some cases, the doctor may check to see if the patient has other and more severe injuries that should be treated first. They will also order X-rays and other imaging tests like the MRI to get a better look at the broken elbow and ensure other neighboring bones, nerves, and blood vessels have not been damaged.
What does elbow replacement involve?
Elbow replacement surgery is a procedure done when the patient has an injury or condition like severe osteoarthritis that has damaged their elbow to the point that it can’t be saved. The doctor will thus replace it with a prosthetic joint that consists of two implants that will be attached to the patient’s arm bones. The prosthetic also has a hinge that will allow the elbow to bend normally.
Elbow replacement surgery takes about two hours. The patient will be given general anesthesia.
After the procedure, the patient will need to undergo physical therapy to adjust to their new elbow and strengthen their arm.