Elbow arthritis is not as common as arthritis that affects other joints. The hands, hips, and knees tend to suffer more but the disease is still very painful in this area of the body and in some ways, can be more damaging to everyday functions, especially if both elbows are attacked.
Three types of arthritis may affect the elbow.
Osteoarthritis is relatively uncommon in the elbow joints but can cause much in the way of misery as it tends to make straightening out the joint very painful. Often linked to sports or heavy repetitive labor, it has a simple wear and tears effect on the joint. It would normally only be active in the one elbow that had the most strain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the main culprit when it comes to elbow arthritis and can be extremely painful. It also can be even worse because it can affect both elbows at the same time, making normal daily activities awkward and painful. There is usually swelling with rheumatoid arthritis and this increases the pressure on the joint. It has a far-reaching effect on daily life.
Post-traumatic arthritis is where some trauma has damaged the elbow in the past and arthritis has set in. A dislocation or a fracture can often lead to torn and damaged cartilage and painful arthritis can develop from that.
Most people tend to cope with elbow arthritis better than when the lower body joints have been attacked, this is because elbows are rarely weight-bearing and most activities do not require the complete range of movement. Carrying a dinner plate from the kitchen to another room can be done with a locked elbow but if walking, the leg joint still needs to bear the full weight. That said, it is important to not detract from the pain and anxiety elbow arthritis can cause.
So, what can be done to help or cure elbow arthritis?
The first port of call in the treatment of any form of arthritis will be medication to ease the swelling and to block some of the pain. You may be experiencing some of the symptoms listed below:
• Locking of the elbow joint
• Swelling around the joint
• A grinding sensation when straightening the elbow out
• An inability to gain the full range of movements
Physical therapy will help to give back some movement and, steroid injections can ease the pain, but relief will not last long. If patients are not responding well to pain medication or treatment, surgery is often the next step. The removal of degenerated cartilage is often carried out, but a complete replacement of the joint is quite often the only option.
Stem cell therapy is now a very effective way of treating all degenerative diseases that affect joints. There are very few side effects with this kind of treatment as the body is basically being used to treat itself. Stem cells are taken from one part of the body and introduced to the damaged area. Stems cells promote healing growth and this treatment has been very successful in treating elbow arthritis.
This treatment is becoming more successful every year and may well be the way forward in the future of dealing with arthritis.