Understanding the Elbow
The elbow is a hinge joint consisting of three bones. The upper part of
the hinge is at the end of the upper arm bone (humerus); the lower part
of the hinge is at the top of the two forearm bones (radius and ulna).
When the elbow is bent, the ends of the two forearm bones rub against
the end of the humerus. Inside the elbow joint, the bones are covered
with a thick, smooth material called articular cartilage. It protects
the bone ends from friction when they rub together. Articular cartilage
is soft enough to act as a shock absorber and is tough enough to last
a lifetime, if it is not injured.
Elbow Replacement as a Treatment Option
Elbow replacement is a highly effective treatment option for patients with
severe elbow arthritis or difficult-to-treat elbow fractures. The goal
of elbow replacement is to restore functional mechanics to the joint by
removing scar tissue, balancing muscles, and inserting a joint replacement
in the place of the destroyed elbow. State-of-the-art arthroscopic technology,
originally designed for hip and knee replacement, has recently been applied
to techniques for elbow replacement. During arthroscopic elbow replacement,
your surgeon will make a very small incision and insert a narrow lighted
tube with camera on the end in order to obtain a video image of the area.
Since arthroscopic surgery is minimally invasive, the recovery period
is usually shorter.
About the Total Elbow Replacement Procedure
At Hoag Orthopedic Institute the entire orthopedic team is highly trained
and specialized in leading edge joint replacement surgeries including
elbow replacement. Total elbow replacement is a highly technical procedure
and is best performed by a surgical team that performs the surgery regularly.
In elbow replacement surgery, an artificial hinge (implant) made of metal
and a durable plastic is inserted into the joint so that the elbow can
move without allowing the two forearm bones to contact the humerus. Your
surgeon will decide upon the type of implant to be used. If necessary,
your surgeon may adjust the ligaments that surround your elbow to achieve
the best possible function.
What to Expect After Elbow Replacement
Your length of stay as an inpatient will depend upon the type of surgery
that is done, varying between one and three days. Your surgery will be
performed under general or regional anesthesia and will take between one
and two hours. After surgery, your elbow will probably be covered by a
bulky bandage and a splint. Assisted elbow movements will be started by
a member of Hoag’s physical therapy team the day after surgery.
Recovery rates will vary depending upon the type of surgery. Your physical
therapist will ask you to follow a personalized regimen of exercises designed
get your elbow working in ways that are similar to your work tasks and
daily activities. If you work in an office or more sedentary job you should
be able to return to work in two to three weeks. Most patients experience
pain relief for many years after elbow-replacement surgery.
Hoag Orthopedic Hospital: Orthopedic Surgeons Specializing in Elbow Replacement Surgery
Elbow replacement surgery is a highly technical procedure and is best performed
by a surgical team that performs this surgery often. Hoag Orthopedic Institute
is a single specialty service center for excellence in orthopedics. Here
you will find that the surgical team has the expertise you need, from
orthopedic surgeons who specialize in leading edge elbow surgery, to orthopedic
certified nurses and orthopedic dedicated surgical techs and physical
therapists. Your surgeon will evaluate your situation carefully before
making any decisions, and the surgical team will proceed with your safety,
pain management, and the ultimate outcome for you in the forefront.
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