Understanding Elbow Arthroscopy

The elbow joint consists of three bones: the humerus bone of the upper arm, and the ulna and radius bones of the forearm. The ulna and the humerus meet at the elbow and form a hinge, allowing the arm to straighten and bend. Life without this ability would be difficult, indeed.

Thanks to elbow arthroscopy, conditions inhibiting the normal use of the elbow can be treated, relieving pain and enabling one to freely use their elbow again.

What is elbow arthroscopy?

Missouri Orthopedic Care St. Louis, Advanced Sports Medicine

Arthroscopy is a procedure that allows surgeons to inspect, diagnose, and repair problems such as releasing scar tissue to improve range of motion, removing loose cartilage and bone fragments, repair lesions, among others.

Common procedures include:

  • Removing loose fragments in the joint
  • Repairing fractures
  • Treatment of tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis)
  • Treatment of osteoarthritis (arthritis that causes wear and tear)
  • Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory arthritis)
  • Treatment of elbow stiffness often caused by fractures and other injuries

How is elbow arthroscopy performed?

Under general or regional anesthesia, a fiber-optic camera is inserted through a cut the width of a pencil in the elbow, magnifying and projecting the structures of the elbow on a television screen. This allows the surgeon to diagnose the condition. Several other small cuts allow insertion of additional instruments into the joint for treatment.

Recovery and rehabilitation.

Arthroscopy is usually an outpatient procedure; expect to return home with a bandage over your incisions, your arm possibly placed in a splint to keep it still and instructions to put ice on it and elevate it regularly for the next couple of days. You more than likely will be given instructions for certain exercises to perform to build strength and increase movement and may even need physical therapy to complete the rehabilitation process. While recovery from elbow arthroscopy is often faster than that of open surgery, expect it to take several weeks for your joint to completely recover.

For more information on elbow arthroscopy and how we can help, contact Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine.