The elbow joint consists of several moving parts, and it is one of the most flexible joints in the body. When an elbow has deteriorated due to arthritis, traumatic injury, tennis elbow, or golfer’s elbow, sometimes the best option is to remove and replace the joint.
Chronic elbow pain that is not responding to other treatments is the main reason for either full or partial elbow replacement surgery.
How Does Joint Replacement Surgery Work?
If only a portion of the elbow joint is affected, that section can probably be replaced while leaving the other structures of the elbow in place. There are two main types of prostheses available: linked and unlinked.
A linked prosthesis acts as a loose hinge joint. All of the structures of the elbow are connected, providing strong stability. The disadvantage of a linked prosthetic elbow is that repeated stressors can cause the prosthesis to work itself loose from the bone.
An unlinked prosthesis is composed of two separate pieces that are not connected as they are in a linked prosthesis. The existing collateral ligaments must help stabilize and hold the prosthesis in place. The disadvantage of this is that the elbow can be dislocated if the ligaments are stretched too far.
Reasons for Elbow Replacement
Pain caused by elbow movements is the leading reason for elbow replacement surgery. Originally developed for patients who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, the reasons for elbow replacement and the types of prosthetic replacements have changed in recent years.
The growing population of elderly patients is partly behind the surge in elbow replacement surgery, as people in this age group often suffer from osteoporosis. These patients often do better with a full joint replacement instead of internal repairs with plates and screws, which could cause further damage to the bones.
Another reason for this surgery is osteoarthritis, which causes inflammation in the joints of the body. When advanced, this condition can make bending the elbow quite difficult and very painful. Primarily affecting people over 50, arthritis causes the cartilage to wear away, creating bone-on-bone friction that is painful enough to seek medical treatment.
Instability of the elbow joint happens when the ligaments become damaged or stretched, causing chronic instability to the elbow. At this point, replacement is the best option, as dislocation will continue to occur.
Elbow Surgeons in Baltimore
If you suffer from chronic elbow pain that has not improved following normal at-home protocols, then consult with Greater Chesapeake Hand to Shoulder and find out whether you are a good candidate for partial or full elbow replacement surgery.
Our experienced orthopedic surgeons have years of experience treating elbow pain of all kinds, from pitcher’s elbow to arthritis pain to sports injuries. We even offer nonsurgical options such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy and pain injections to provide relief in your elbow.
Call our friendly team today at (410) 296-6232 or schedule an appointment online, and get back in your game – whether tennis, golf, or work – without any more pain.