Elbow joint replacement also called elbow arthroplasty can effectively treat the problems caused by arthritis of the elbow. The procedure is also becoming more widely used in aging adults to replace joints damaged by fractures. The artificial elbow is considered successful by more than 90 percent of patients who have elbow joint replacement.
Elbow replacement surgery is usually done if the elbow joint is badly damaged and you have pain or cannot use your arm. Some causes of damage are:
- Poor outcome from previous elbow surgery
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Badly broken bone in the upper or lower arm near the elbow
- Badly damaged or torn tissues in the elbow
- Tumor in or around the elbow
Recovery takes up to three months after elbow replacement surgery. The first few therapy treatments will focus on controlling the pain and swelling from surgery. Heat treatments may be used. Your therapist may also use gentle massage and other types of hands-on treatments to ease muscle spasm and pain.
Successful joint replacement surgery may relieve your pain and stiffness, and allow you to resume some of your normal daily activities as instructed by your doctor. While you are recovering, you should not lift more than one pound with the operated arm. Even after you have fully recovered from your surgery, you will still have some restrictions. Normal daily activities for elbow replacement patients do not include contact sports, "jamming" activities such as hammering, heavy or repetitive lifting, or activities that put excessive strain on your elbow. Your doctor may advise you not to lift anything that weights more than five pounds.