Elbow Arthritis

Elbow Arthritis

Arthritis is a common injury to joints, resulting in a decreased space in the joint itself due to general wear and tear. This condition is often associated with aging, in which the joint loses its lubrication layer (the cartilage). As the joint loses this layer of cartilage, it can cause decreased elbow mobility and pain with movement.

There are a variety of reasons why arthritis may develop, including aging, heavy lifting, repetitive throwing activities, and past trauma to the elbow. Arthritis is typically treated conservatively first with physical therapy, activity modifications, and cortisone injections. Arthritis can be repaired surgically with either arthroscopic elbow surgery or total elbow replacement.

Elbow ArthritisSymptoms

  • Pain on the front, sides, or back of the elbow
  • Radiating symptoms into the wrist or up toward the elbow
  • Stiffness in the joint, especially first thing in the morning
  • Grinding, clicking, or creaking with elbow movements
  • Pain with exercise or lifting heavy objects


Arthritis is typically diagnosed with imaging of the joint to identify the spacing (cartilage) left in the joint. This joint degeneration can vary in symptoms and the timeline needed for surgery.


Elbow arthritis can be repaired surgically with a total elbow replacement or arthroscopically. A total elbow replacement is a surgical procedure in which parts of the arthritic joint are replaced with a prosthesis or artificial parts. Repairing the elbow arthroscopically involves special tools to clean out the arthritic joint with minimally invasive surgery involving several small incisions. Cortisone injections and physical therapy are also helpful tools for treating elbow arthritis.