Elbow surgery : regaining arm mobility

Elbow surgery : regaining arm mobility

Elbow stiffness : a debilitating disorder

The elbow is a joint connecting three bones: the humerus, the ulna and the radius. The way in which they are naturally interconnected enables the arm to be flexed and extended and allows the forearm to pivot, i.e. the wrist to turn. The joint is surrounded by an articular capsule, a sort of elastic envelope that stretches or retracts according to the movements performed.

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Elbow surgery is required the patient is diagnosed with joint stiffness which prevents him/her from performing the movements described above.

Why perform a elbow surgery ?

Elbow stiffness can occur as a result of trauma or it can take hold progressively due to osteoarthritis in the elbow. Joint mobility is restricted because of two phenomena: the articular capsule stiffens; the bones no longer interconnect smoothly. Participation in sport is restricted and normal daily activity is hampered.

Initially physiotherapy is prescribed. If after several weekly sessions this still proves ineffective, then elbow surgery should be considered.

Osteoarthritis of the elbow : surgery to treat stiffness

Elbow surgery in the case of joint stiffness consists initially in removing the capsule that has stiffened. A new, more flexible envelope will form, enabling the joint to regain the normal range of movement. The aim of the procedure is also to reshape the surface of the bones so that they are able to connect smoothly again. Following this operation, the elbow regains its mobility.

According to the individual case, this elbow surgery can be performed by arthroscopy, or “keyhole surgery”. Three months after the procedure, the patient will be able to resume the activities that elbow stiffness had made impossible.

Dr Philippe Paillard

Article written by Dr Philippe Paillard

Specialist in orthopedic surgery and sports surgery, Dr. Philippe Paillard operates on patients with hip, knee, shoulder, elbow or ankle disorders or injuries.

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