Elbow Arthritis is a common type of degenerative disease that affects the joints and bone health of your body as you age. It is a progressive disease that affects the population above the age of 60. It severely compromises your range of motion and mobility and is commonly associated with pain and tenderness of the joints. Although there is no definitive cure for arthritis, physiotherapy for elbow pain, exercises, and medications can help you manage the pain better. Let us take a closer look at elbow arthritis by examining its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. 

Elbow Arthritis Causes

  1. One of the most common types of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis which is a strong and probable cause behind elbow arthritis. This is quite a long-term disease that attacks your immune system and affects the structure of your joints, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain. It is a progressive disease that gets worse without treatment and it affects the joints of both sides of the body. Sometimes, in severe cases, the joints erode causing a deformity in the elbow. 
  1. Another common actor behind elbow arthritis is osteoarthritis. If you are someone who plays sports or is in an occupation that is physically demanding, this is a wear-and-tear disease that can affect them. Anatomically speaking, this disease affects you when it starts eroding the cartilage that cushions your joint which is a common consequence of wear and tear. Osteoarthritis can also be caused due to a sustained injury that has been left untreated- like a fracture or a dislocation. 
  1. A Gout is a form of the disease that can cause elbow arthritis and pain. This usually happens when there is excess uric acid that is present in your blood that crystallizes and poked into your delicate tissues and joints. This causes immense swelling and pain. 
  1. Although more commonly known as a skin disease, psoriasis can also cause elbow arthritis. This kind of psoriatic arthritis can cause immense swelling and pain near your elbow joints. 
  1. If you have been recently diagnosed with Lupus, arthritis can be a consequence of this diagnosis. Just like rheumatoid arthritis, it is an auto-immune disease, where your own immune system starts attacking your cells, tissues, and joints. Although this is usually limited to your elbows and hands, sometimes it can also trickle down to your feet. 

Elbow Arthritis Symptoms

Here are some of the elbow arthritis symptoms you should know about: 

  • The feeling of intense pain is the most common symptom of elbow arthritis. For rheumatoid arthritis, it is generally limited to the outer side of the joint that gets worse from further rotation. Sometimes, the pain gets too intense that interferes with your quality of sleep. 
  • Intense swelling and inflammation of the elbow joint.
  • The elbow joint becomes insatiable making it very difficult for you to carry on with your normal activities. 
  • The range of motion becomes extremely limited and sometimes it is very difficult to extend the entire arm. 
  • With osteoarthritis sometimes, your elbow locks and catches make it difficult for you to lift and can be quite painful. 
  • With arthritis, stiffness is quite common. Your joints become extremely stiff due to restricted movement. 
  • Sometimes, with rheumatoid arthritis, elbow pain happens on both sides and also trickles down to your wrists and shoulders. 

Also Read: Golfer’s Elbow – Symptoms and Causes and Treatment

Elbow Arthritis Treatment

Here are some of the treatment measures of elbow arthritis: 

  • One of the most common causes of elbow arthritis is the overuse of the elbow joint. So the first and foremost treatment option you need is to rest the joint and prevent repetitive movements of the joint. If you play racquet sports, or in a physically-intensive sport, then it might be helpful to cut down a little or have extended periods of rest before resuming exercise as this can reduce the tension on the joint. 
  • One of the most common techniques of pain relief is taking over-the-counter pain relief medication for short-term pain relief. They are Acetaminophen or ibuprofen as they contain antimalarial agents, gold salts, drugs that suppress your immune system. Steroid injection into the elbow joint is also quite common. 
  • Physiotherapy For Elbow Pain– This is a must explore option- whether you are a tennis player or an office worker. Physiotherapy for elbow pain involves a collection of muscle strengthening, movement correction, and postural correction to focus on the root of the problem. It is a very effective non-invasive technique and also a drug-free approach to treatment. It helps with bringing back your original range of motion and flexibility and devises safe plans for people with arthritis and other existing degenerative conditions.
  • In some cases, elbow arthritis does not respond to treatment, which is why a surgical approach is necessary. 
  • Arthroscopy is a procedure wherein a surgeon inserts small instruments to make incisions to remove abnormal bone growth, a portion of synovium, or loose fragments. This is a common procedure with rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. 
  • Synovectomy is another surgical procedure that helps remove the affected tissue synovium that greases and lubricated your elbow joint. In some cases, only a portion of the bone is removed so as to increase your range of motion. 
  • Osteotomy is a procedure wherein the diseased part of the bone is removed to help reduce the pressure on the joint. This is a common procedure with osteoarthritis. 
  • Sometimes, an arthroplasty is required wherein the surgeon creates artificial joints that require an external device. Sometimes, an entire joint replacement procedure is done for people over the age of 60 due to the complications related to their condition in severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis of the elbow joint. 

Also Read: Elbow (Olecranon) Bursitis: Symptoms & Treatments

For more information about elbow arthritis and physiotherapy for elbow pain, head on to Phyt Health, India’s first digital physiotherapy platform offering online physiotherapy services and consultations. With a wealth of elbow exercises present on their website, you can include them in your daily life depending on your comfort level. All these exercises are curated by expert physiotherapists at Phyt Health. You can also book your online video consultation on the app, to discuss any issues you might be facing and begin your journey towards recovery!