Elbow Replacement in Houston, TX
The elbow is a critical joint. Without it, it’s impossible to bend your arm to pick up a glass of water, raise a fork to your mouth, or even wave normally to a passerby. However, like all other joints in the body, the elbow is subject to wear and tear-related damage, trauma, and diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis. While total elbow replacement is far less common than hip, knee, or even shoulder replacement surgeries, it is sometimes necessary.
Are you suffering from elbow pain, stiffness, or limited mobility? Contact us here at Orthopedic Associates to schedule a consultation at one of our 5 areas in Houston Orthopaedic Surgery Offices to discuss your symptoms and learn more about elbow replacement and other treatment options.
Understanding the Elbow Joint
Unlike the shoulder joint or the hip joint, your elbow is what’s called a hinge joint. It includes three different bones – the humerus, the radius, and the ulna, all of which are joined together with ligaments, buffered by cartilage and the synovial membrane, which lubricates the joint and further reduces friction.
What Causes Elbow Pain?
Many conditions may lead to elbow pain and limited mobility. One of the most common is osteoarthritis. This is a wear and tear situation seen primarily in older patients. Over time, the synovial membrane may not produce as much fluid as necessary. Use also wears away the cartilage until you are left with bone rubbing on bone.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that inflames and thickens the synovial membrane, causing it to create wear on the cartilage. Eventually, the cartilage is worn away and bone rubs on bone. Trauma, such as fractures and tendon tears, can also lead to joint degeneration. Finally, instability is a situation in which the elbow’s tendons no longer hold the joint together. This can cause pain and limited mobility, as well.
If you’re experiencing elbow joint pain and limited mobility, there is help. Contact Orthopaedic Associates in Houston to schedule your consultation.
Elbow Replacement Surgery
All joint replacements are complex, but elbow joint replacement is particularly challenging because of the complicated joint arrangement. Each moving part must balance the others to control forearm movement. You will also find several types of elbow replacement surgery.
Total Elbow Replacement Surgery
In this procedure, the entire elbow is replaced. An orthopedic surgeon will remove the head of the humerus and install two stems – one into the humerus and one into the ulna. A hinge allows both stems to move, mimicking the natural elbow joint. You’ll find two types of prosthetics on the market, too. Linked prostheses work like a loose, connected hinge. Unlinked models do not connect to one another, but are held in place by the surrounding ligaments.
Partial Elbow Replacement
In some cases, only the damaged portion of the elbow joint will need to be replaced. For instance, if only the head of the humerus is damaged, your orthopedic surgeon may choose to remove it and replace it with an artificial one instead. That is known as partial elbow replacement.
Possible Complications of Elbow Replacement Surgery
All surgeries carry with them some risk of complications. Some of the potential complications of elbow replacement surgery include the following:
- Infection of the bone
- Infection at the incision site
- Hardware failure
- Nerve damage
- Slow wound healing
Is Elbow Replacement Surgery Right for You?
You don’t have to live with elbow pain and limited mobility. Elbow replacement surgery may be an option. However, not all patients are ideal candidates. The orthopedic specialists at Orthopaedic Associates in Houston will provide a complete assessment, including X-rays and other tests, a physical examination, and a discussion of your medical history to help you understand the best treatment options for your specific situation. Schedule your consultation today.