Elbow Arthritis Treatment Pleasantville NJ
Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Medical School: Univ Fed De Rio De Janeiro, Fac De Med,
Graduation Year: 1982
Somers Point, NJ
Red Bank, NJ
Allegra Arthritis Associates PC
Long Branch, NJ
The Arthritis Allergy & Immunology Ctr
Allergy, Asthma & Arthritis Assoc
East Orange, NJ
Update on Treatment of Elbow Arthritis
How do you know if that elbow stiffness, pain, and loss of motion you are having is arthritis? What causes elbow arthritis? What can be done about it? In this article, experts in the area of hand and upper extremity surgery review studies from the past five years and attempt to answer these questions.
The diagnosis of elbow symptoms begins with a patient history followed by a physical exam. The symptoms could be from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, infection, or some other problem. By identifying the location of pain and the aggravating/relieving factors, doctors can help narrow down the underlying cause.
For example, rheumatoid arthritis usually causes pain throughout the entire range-of-motion. The pain is more likely to be located along the outside edge of the joint. Osteoarthritis is more common among males involved in heavy lifting (e.g., manual laborers, weight lifters, throwing athletes). Osteoarthritic pain is more likely to be present at the beginning and ending of motion, rather than throughout the entire arc of motion.
Examination by the physician takes into account any skin changes, joint motion (quantity and quality), and blood work. Lab studies examining the blood can identify the presence of infection as a possible source of pain and stiffness.
Sometimes the clinical exam is said to be unremarkable. That means there weren't enough findings to point to anything specific. Then X-rays or other more advanced imaging studies can be ordered. X-ray findings do help identify the difference between rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. The X-rays may show the presence of bone spurs, narrowing of the joint margins, and the presence of any fractures, subluxations, or dislocations.
Once the diagnosis has been made, the doctor turns his or her attention to developing a plan of care that will prevent further complications or problems. If it looks like surgery might be necessary, CT scan and/or MRIs may be ordered.
Treatment is divided into two types: conservative (nonoperative) and surgery. Nonsurgical treatment usually begins with medications to control symptoms and prevent damage to the joint. For some patients, the use of antiinflammatory drugs and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can completely eliminate all signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
No matter what the cause of the problem is, activity modification, rest, and physical therapy are often recommended. Sometimes splinting is advised to help protect, support, and mobilize (move) the joint. If after three to six months of conservative care, there is no improvement (or the symptoms are worse), then surgery may be an option.
There are various types of surgical procedures to consider. Which one is selected depends on the patient's age, diagnosis, job demands, or sports participation. The selection of surgical procedures also takes into account the areas of the joint affected most (e.g., joint surface, capsule, synovium). The surgeon does e...