Total Elbow Replacement

Total elbow replacement can be indicated when either elbow osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis has significantly eroded the joint and you’re experiencing a great deal of pain and loss of function in the elbow.

In a healthy elbow joint, the surfaces of the bones are very smooth and covered with a tough protective tissue called cartilage. Elbow arthritis causes damage to the bone surfaces and cartilage where the three elbow joint bones rub together.

What Happens During Elbow Joint Replacement

The goal of elbow replacement surgery, performed under general or nerve block anesthesia, is to restore functional mechanics to the elbow joint by removing scar tissue, balancing muscles and inserting a joint replacement prosthetic in the place of the destroyed elbow.

One part of the artificial joint is fixed to the inside of the humerus (arm bone) and the other part to the inside of the ulna (one of the forearm bones). The two parts are then connected using a hinge pin that gives the joint stability.

Total elbow joint replacement is a highly technical procedure and is best performed by a surgical team who performs this surgery regularly.

After Elbow Replacement

Your physical therapist will teach you exercises to get your new joint moving and to strengthen the surrounding muscles. You’ll begin the exercises in the hospital and continue them once you get home.

It will take three to six months before you get the full benefit of the surgery, and you may have to reduce some normal activities such as driving. You should feel a noticeable improvement by about six weeks after your elbow replacement and steady improvement from then on.

On average, your elbow replacement will last about 10 years and give you a much improved quality of life.