Elbow Joint Replacement

1 What is an Elbow Replacement Surgery?

Elbow replacement surgery is a complicated procedure mainly because the elbow has several moving parts that balance each other with great precision to control the movements of your forearm.

It may be possible that your elbow will be damaged by problems ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to traumatic fractures but in some cases, the damages can be surgically repaired.

If the damage is extensive your doctor may recommend elbow replacement surgery and the common reason why people undergo in this procedure is because of the pain.

In this procedure, the damaged joint is removed and an artificial or prosthetic joint is inserted into your arm bones.

You must take good care to avoid harming the lunar or ulnar nerve that travels along the outside edge of the joint.

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2 Reasons for Procedure

Here are the most common reasons to undergo an elbow replacement surgery.

Your doctor may recommend this procedure so that you will have less pain and can move better. This procedure is also similar to hip and knee replacements.

3 Potential Risks

The potential risks of elbow replacement surgery include:

  • infection
  • injury to blood vessels and nerves
  • broken bone
  • allergic reaction to the artificial joint
  • loosening or wearing of the artificial parts
  • pain
  • failure or weakness in the tendons of your arms
  • stiffness or instability of the joint

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for the elbow replacement surgery, your doctor will first ask you about your medical history. You will have to tell them about any conditions including allergies.

Tell your doctor if you are smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, and what medications, supplements and vitamins that you’re taking and their doses.

Your doctor will ask you to stop drinking or smoking before the surgery.

5 What to Expect

Here’s what you can expect before, during, and after your elbow replacement surgery.

This procedure can take about 2 hours and your doctor will give you anesthesia. After the procedure, you will be advised to stay at the hospital for 4 days.

After the operation, you will have stitches and bandage on your new elbow and you may also need to keep your arm in a splint to keep it stable while it heals.

You will need strong pain medications after surgery because elbow replacement involves cutting skin, tendons, and bone and this can last up to 1 to 2 weeks.

It will take the time to get used to your elbow and you will not be able to lift things at first for about six weeks after surgery.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your elbow replacement surgery results, consult with your doctor.

You will learn simple exercises and other types of physical therapy to help your arm move better and get stronger.

Your doctor may recommend a range of motion exercises such as straightening your arm and bending. This procedure will help in reducing pain and helps your elbow to work better.

You will need to avoid activities that can cause further injury such as playing contact sports, hammering and lifting heavy weights.