• Team Joseph

Do I Have Elbow Arthritis?


Arthritis is a degenerative disease that can impact any joint in the body. When arthritis occurs in the elbow, it can cause pain, swelling, and inflammation. Here’s how to recognize if you have arthritis in the elbow and your treatment options.


Symptoms of Arthritis in the Elbow


Two types of arthritis impact the elbow joint: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


  • Osteoarthritis: affects the cartilage that cushions the bones of the joint. Age and a previous orthopaedic injury to the elbow can cause the cartilage to wear down and cause bone to rub against bone.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Affects the lining of the joint, called the synovia. Inflammation of the lining causes it to swell and narrow the space inside the joint. This type of arthritis will eventually destroy the soft tissue and bone of the elbow joint.


However, despite the different ways these two forms of arthritis manifest in the joint, the symptoms are roughly similar. At Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery, Dr. Joseph’s elbow arthritis patients often report the following symptoms:


  • Pain

  • Swelling

  • Stiffness

  • Tingling

  • Locking

  • Instability

  • Clicking or grinding sensation

  • Difficulting extending the elbow

It’s essential to have your elbow arthritis formally diagnosed by an orthopaedic elbow expert. After a physical exam, Dr. Joseph may order imaging tests to determine if arthritis has narrowed the joint or damaged the bone. This allows him to determine the best possible course of treatment for the patient.


Treating Elbow Arthritis

Treatment for elbow arthritis depends on the following factors:

  • Cause

  • Activity level

  • Health

  • Lifestyle

  • Disease progression

While there is no cure for arthritis, there are nonsurgical treatment options that will manage the disease’s painful symptoms. Dr. Jospeh will always attempt conservative treatments before recommending surgery. These treatments include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications

  • Rest

  • Ice

  • Activity modification

  • Physical therapy

  • Steroid injections

If your elbow arthritis has progressed to the point where nonsurgical methods have no impact and daily activities become difficult, Dr. Joseph will discuss your surgical options, which may include:

  • Arthroscopy: Using small incisions and pencil-sized tools, Dr. Joseph will remove damaged bone, cartilage, or joint lining.

  • Synovectomy: The diseased joint lining is removed.

  • Osteotomy: Small sections of bone are removed to relieve joint pressure.

  • Arthroplasty: The damaged bone and cartilage are removed and replaced with an implant.

The type of procedure Dr. Joseph recommends will depend on your needs, lifestyle, disease stage, and age, but elbow arthritis treatment is always designed with the patient’s outcome goals in mind.


Elbow Arthritis Doctor In Eagle County and Summit County


If you are experiencing pain, swelling, and instability in the elbow. Located in both Eagle and Summit County, Dr. Joseph and his team are the go-to orthopaedic expert for diseases and injuries to the elbow.


Schedule your appointment today by calling (970) 476-7220 or through Dr. Joseph’s patient contact form.


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