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ELBOW ARTHRITIS

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You might not be making millions off of your ability to throw a baseball, but that doesn’t make your elbow joint any less vital to your body. When your elbows hurt, the pain can be very bothersome, and it may prevent you from doing many of the things you love.

Baseball pitchers aren’t the only ones who should protect their elbows. Keep reading to learn about elbow osteoarthritis, what causes it, and what your treatment options are.

ELBOW ANATOMY

DISEASE EXPLAINED

SYMPTOMS

Everyone who has osteoarthritis (OA) experiences a variety of symptoms. Some symptoms may be more intense or occur more frequently than others occur.

The following symptoms are the most common:

Stiffness

Pain

Difficulty moving the joint

Bone spurs

Bone grating or scraping

Joint locking

Joint instability

Joint swelling

CAUSES

Wear and tear in your joints damages and destroys the protective cartilage that covers the ends of the bones. Without cartilage protecting the bones, they begin to rub against each other. They may become deformed, swollen, and painful.

The elbow is one of the joints less commonly affected by OA. That’s because the ligaments in the elbow are strong enough to stabilize the joint so that it can withstand blows and damage better than some other joints in the body can.

TREATMENT OPTIONS

TREATMENT OPTIONS

Doctors typically suggest nonsurgical treatments first. These include:

Activity restriction: Avoid activities that aggravate the joint. Rest between periods of exercise or activity.

Pain management pills: Some over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen, can reduce the pain caused by OA.

Prescription medications: If OTC pain medicines aren’t effective, your doctor may prescribe prescription drugs. Steroid injections also can help ease pain.

Physical therapy: Gentle exercises and heat or cold therapy may be helpful in easing pain. Splints can reduce stress in the affected joint by gently supporting it.

SURGICAL TREATMENTS
If lifestyle treatments aren’t successful, your doctor may perform one of several surgical options in order to ease the symptoms of elbow OA. Surgical options include:

Synovectomy: A surgeon removes damaged pieces of the synovium, a thin layer of tissue that surrounds each joint.

Arthroscopy: A surgeon uses a small instrument to remove bone fragments, damaged cartilage, and bone spurs from the joint.

Osteotomy: A surgeon removes sections of the bone to ease symptoms and reduce the bone-on-bone contact.

Arthroplasty: The surgeon replaces the damaged joint with an artificial one.

CONTACTING DR. PERLMUTTER

Texting is preferred by Dr. Perlmutter for communication (717-836-6833). Please contact him ASAP, should you have any concerns whatsoever. Many patients fail to contact Dr. Perlmutter when they should have because they are "afraid of bothering him." This is a potentially dangerous attitude and Dr. Perlmutter will always welcome every opportunity to make his patients feel more comfortable. Please feel comfortable sending photographs to add perspective to your questions. Please turn on your flash, aim directly at the body part that you wish to show, and use an evenly colored, dark, and non-reflective background.

If you cannot text, you may call Dr. Perlmutter, however, you must use a confirmed caller ID unblocked telephone or he will not be able to return your call. If you need help turning off this feature you may:

1) Try pushing *82 prior to dialing, or

2) Use a different phone.

Your failure to do so will absolutely compromise your care and hurt your outcome!

If Dr. Perlmutter cannot be reached on his cell phone or by text, please contact the hospital operator to assist in reaching him or a member of his team. They can be reached at NASH: 252-962-8000. ECU Edgecombe: 252-641-7700.

IF YOU PERCEIVE AN EMERGENCY, PLEASE CALL 911 OR GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM ASAP.

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