Image by NordWood Themes

Its etiology is considered to be multifactorial, including post-traumatic arthritis, heterotopic ossification, non-union or malunion with soft tissues around the elbow contracture. Regan and Reilly recognized three factors that may contribute to elbow contracture: 1) its complex anatomy, 2) the anterior brachial muscle that covers the anterior capsule leading to ossification and 3) sustained immobilization due to difficulties in achieving a stable osteosynthesis, especially in complex fractures.

Elbow stiffness is mainly determined by the degree of the joint injury. However, it is also influenced by periosteum loss and immobilization time. These causes may explain why major contractures are observed, despite obtaining adequate reduction and stability, or even in fractures without displacement. Other non-traumatic causes of stiffness are hemophilia, sequelae of infections, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Among congenital causes, the arthrogryposis and congenital dislocation of the radial head are distinguished.




Stiffness of the elbow

Inability to fully extend or flex the arm

Usually no pain is associated with elbow contractures.


Causes and risk factors associated with elbow contracture, include:

Elbow trauma

Elbow surgery


Rheumatoid arthritis

Loose bodies

Osteophytes or bone spurs

Malunions of fractures

Joint infection




Depending on your condition, we may recommend a nonsurgical therapy to restore your range of motion and relieve pain. Therapies can include changing daily activities, using elbow splints or physical therapy.

During elbow release surgery our doctors remove scar tissue, abnormal bone growth and, if needed, other damaged tissue in your elbow.

We relieve pressure on the nerves and free them from surrounding scar tissue. And we use extra care to preserve your normal elbow ligaments.

Elbow contracture release surgery can be either open surgery or arthroscopic surgery.

Open surgery uses an incision near the elbow joint. Minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery uses tiny surgical tools and a camera and typically allows for faster healing.


  • All of the opinions expressed within the educational information delivered within the provided links are those of their authors and not necessarily those of either your treating doctor or CRO.

  • This site is for educational purposes only!!

  • Copyright Disclaimer under Section 107 of the copyright act 1976, allowance is made for fair use for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statutes that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational, or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.