What is the elbow joint?

The elbow joint is the point where the arm meets the forearm. It is a complex joint as there are 2 joints within the same spot, that is, the joint between the humerus (arm) and ulna (one of the 2 forearm bones), as well as between the radius (the second forearm bone) and the humerus (arm).

What conditions can affect the elbow joint?

The elbow is a common site for sporting injuries as well as fractures. These fractures are often challenging to put back together.

Our aim is to securely fix them so as to mobilize the elbow fast enough before stiffness sets in. Sometimes, in the older population, these fractures are not fixable and we end up replacing part or the whole joint to restore early motion.

Arthritis is the second most common condition. This is managed firstly with non-surgical means, but failing this, an elbow replacement may be an option to restore mobility and reduce pain.

Although ligament injuries and dislocations are relatively uncommon, these are complex injuries to treat.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis is generally quite apparent on plain x-rays but occasionally a CT scan or an MRI scan may be required for further clarity.

What are the treatment options?

A lot of the fractures around the elbow are important due to their proximity to the joint itself, that is, they most likely need operative treatment. It is important to distinguish simple dislocations from the more complex ones, where surgical input will help in early and long term results.

Arthritis is generally treated without an operation to begin with, using injections, pain medications and physiotherapy, failing which joint replacing procedures can be performed. Some contractures around the elbow are treated with keyhole surgery. The rehabilitation of such patients will need physiotherapy input.

Matthan Mammen

Mr. Matthan Mammen

MS, FRACS (Orth)

Matthan is an internationally qualified orthopaedic surgeon, who is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Australian Orthopaedic Association.

Shoulder Bone Icon

Shoulder Joint

Elbow Icon

Elbow Joint

Wrist Icon

Wrist Joint

Hand Icon

Hand Joints

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