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What is elbow replacement surgery?

Repeated pressure or overuse can overload the tissues where it is attached to the bone. Overuse can also cause pain over the elbow joint. Depending upon the location and severity of the injury or pain, the treatment options and recovery time varies. The conditions that necessitate elbow replacement include rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis the synovial membrane surrounding the joint get inflamed and thickened. This eventually leads to cartilage damage and loss resulting in severe pain that compels you to meet an elbow injury doctor immediately.

Know about elbow surgery

In osteoarthritis the wear and tear caused as a result of continued use or old age, the cartilage that acts as a cushion in the elbow joint softens and it leads to the wearing of the cartilage. The bone starts rubbing against each other and slowly it becomes painful and stiff.

If rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis has harmed your elbow joint and if conventional treatment is not yielding any tangible results, your doctor may suggest surgical procedure or replacing of the elbow for rectifying the problems faced by the elbow joint.  In elbow replacement surgery, the damaged elbow joint is replaced by a prosthesis made of either steel or medical grade plastic. A metal and plastic hinge joins the implants together.

The surgical procedure starts with an incision on your elbow made by your surgeon.  Damaged or diseased portion of the elbow is removed by the surgeon. He replaces the elbow with prosthesis joint and it is attached to the implants fitted to the arm bones. These implants are joined together with the help of a plastic and metal hinge. The procedure is similar to knee and hip replacements.

Complications in elbow surgery

  • Infection
  • Injury may be caused to nerves and blood vessels
  • Allergic reaction at the artificial joint
  • Stiffness of joint and consequent instability of the elbow joint
  • Broken bone
  • Loosening or artificial parts
  • Failure of arm tendons
  • Pain

Before the surgery

Your doctor will examine your medical history. Inform him everything including the medicines being taken by you and all the information relating to your health like allergies, surgeries undergone etc. Also inform you whether you are a habitual drinker or smoker.

How long it takes?

Elbow replacement surgery is often completed within two hours. You will be given anesthesia and hence you will not be awake during the surgery. You will have to stay in the hospital for about four days.

How will it look like?

After the surgery you will have stitches. You will also have bandage on the replaced elbow. You will be required to keep your arm in a splint so that it can be kept stable during the healing process.

Medication after elbow replacement

As the skin, tendons, bone etc are cut during elbow replacement surgery, strong pain medications will be required to reduce the pain. Even after going home from hospital you will need to take pain medications for one or two weeks at least.

How to get used to new elbow?

It will take considerable time to get used to the new elbow. It will not be possible to lift anything heavier than a cup of coffee in the initial days and up to a period of six weeks. It will be good if some help is arranged for doing day to day activities.

Recovery and physiotherapy

Your physiotherapist will help you to learn simple exercises that are helpful in making your arms stronger and allowing them to move in the normal manner. He will also teach you range motion exercises like straightening and bending of your arm. The elbow replacement surgery helps you to reduce the pain experienced in your elbow and to improve its functioning. It may not make the elbow joint as good as it was before. But you will be able to do all the functions that your original elbow was performing. Activities that are likely to improve the damages and give strain to the elbow joint have to be avoided in future. Playing contact sports, hammering, lifting of heavy weights etc have to be avoided.  After an elbow surgery Woodbridge, VA. If you give good care and protection your new elbow will serve you well for many years to come.

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