The elbow is a hinge joint consisting of three bones. The upper portion of the hinge is at the end of the upper arm bone (humerus), and the lower portion is the top of the two forearm bones (radius and ulna) which are side by side. All three of these bones are in contact with each other. The joint is surrounded and lined by cartilage, muscles, and tendons that provide support, stability, and ease of movement.
Elbow can be affected by osteo or rheumatoid arthritis, as well as by past injury. These conditions can cause pain and stiffness that may be improved by surgery.
In elbow replacement surgery, a loosely hinged prosthesis is used to replace the arthritic ends of the humerus (upper arm bone) and ulna (one of the lower arm bones) at the joint where they meet.
For surgery, you will receive general anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision to expose your elbow joint. Usually this incision is made in the back of the upper and lower arm. Your surgeon will then remove the sections of the humerus and the ulna that make up your elbow joint along with any damaged tissue. Then your surgeon will drill out part of the center of the humerus and ulna. An end of the artificial joint stems will be inserted into each bone. Usually, bone cement is used to hold the stems in place.
Next, your surgeon will attach the 2 stems together with the hinge. Your incision will be closed with sutures (stitches). It will be bandaged, and your arm may be placed in a splint to keep it stable.
After the surgery, postoperative care begins with up to three weeks of immobilization in a splint. After 3 weeks, physical therapy which is very crucial to returning the elbow to goo functionality starts.
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