Strength and flexibility are so important on a day to day basis and when there is a restriction of movement in the arm or shoulder, this can be highly detrimental. Any pain in the elbow when straightening arm must be seen by a doctor, although it is commonly experienced for a number of reasons including elbow arthritis. This occurs due to the cartilage wearing out although the injury is another likely cause. The elbow is a much more stable joint than the knee or hip because it is the non-weight bearing but, care should always be taken with all the joints of the body. For any sports-minded individual, elbow pain is common. Where former injuries may have occurred i.e. a fall, a fracture to the elbow or, if the joint has been dislocated, there is the potential for elbow arthritis. Joint mobility and chronic or acute pain will need to be managed and to aid healing, stem cell therapy for elbow may be considered.
Where arthritis is particularly bad, reconstructive surgery may be necessary. It’s important to note that the elbow will never be fully healed to its former condition, this is especially so if there is some degeneration of the joint. This is a problem for sports enthusiasts such as tennis players or for those who enjoy cricket as cartilage damage is common. Medical diagnosis is important, especially when any swelling or pain sensations are experienced within the joint. The elbow may become locked or flexibility greatly reduced. If the diagnosis is not detected early, there can be greater deterioration of the elbow joint as pressure increases on the ulnar nerve. Diagnosis methods include x-ray, CT Scan, and MRI which will highlight any joint abnormalities.
Depending on the extent of the injury, elbow arthritis will be painful. Physical therapy will help improve flexibility and mobility and improve muscle strength helping to restore function. Oral pain medication will be given but steroid injections may also be prescribed. Topical steroid injections are applied directly to the elbow but this does not heal the joint, rather, it controls pain instead for a short term. The fluid composition within the joint can be improved through injecting hyaluronic acid but self-help treatments such as supplements of glucosamine or chondroitin are also useful.
Stem cell therapy is a useful way to help improve healing and in turn, this will improve the quality of life on a day to day basis. Stem cells are responsible for the generation of new cells and can be obtained through fat deposits or the patient’s mesenchymal (MSCs). They help to boost regeneration of the cartilage, secreting anti-inflammatory agents which may decrease pain and existing inflammation. There are no side-effects with stem cell therapy in comparison to the use of steroid injections, it also seems to be tolerated well and this is because the stem cells are taken from the patient, so, there is no risk of rejection. Preventative measures are best when it comes to joint health but early diagnosis of any joint pain will help with the recovery process.