When medication, physical therapy and injections are not enough to relieve and restore elbow pain, a total or partial elbow replacement with implants may be your best option. The most common reason for an artificial elbow replacement is arthritis, degenerative and systemic. After an x-ray or an MRI your surgeon will be able to diagnose the cause of your pain. Whether arthritis or bone grinding or other medical problems, he will be able to determine if you need a complete elbow replacement or a partial one.
Elbow implants are designed to create a smooth functioning joint to alleviate bone on bone contact. A joint replacement surgery is usually considered a last resort for a badly damaged and painful elbow joint. The artificial joint replaces the damaged surfaces with metal and plastic that are designed to fit together and rub smoothly against each other. This takes away the pain of bone rubbing against bone.
Commonly a 3 to 5 day hospital stay is required after elbow replacement and you will not be allowed to lift anything heavy.
Elbow replacement surgery with artificial implants eases pain for over 75% of patients, however, results drop if a second surgery is required. Sometimes this surgery is not appropriate. Your doctor will decide after a full diagnosis of your overall health.
Surgery not appropriate if:
•An active infection
•Not enough bone or the bone is not strong enough to support your new elbow
•Injured or nonfunctional elbow muscles
•Bones are not fully grown or developed
•Noticeable bone loss or a severe decrease in bone mass (osteoporosis)
•Elbow has been previously fused and is stable
•Rheumatoid arthritis skin lesions (because of increased risk of infection)