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Arthritis of the Elbow

Definition:

Arthritis is chronic inflammation of a joint with eventual cartilage breakdown. In the elbow, inflammation can occur as a result of many systemic forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid, gouty or psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and reactive arthritis.

Causes:
The loss of articular cartilage that occurs with arthritis leads to bones having direct contact with each other as they move. A previous injury to the elbow, such as a dislocation or fracture, is the most likely cause of osteoarthritis later in life. This is particularly so if the elbow needed surgical repair, or some of the cartilage was lost. Other risk factors are:
  • Age: Cartilage degenerates over time and with use, becoming thinner and more brittle, and therefore more vulnerable.
  • Infection or illness: Inflammation caused by an infection can result in arthritis.
  • Occupation: Some occupations or sports that involve repetitive movements of the elbow are more likely to cause stress or overuse injuries that may lead to osteoarthritis.
  • Heredity: A family history of arthritis increases the risk of developing the disease.
Symptoms:
  • Inflammation of the joint including heat, warmth and swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Decreased range of motion
Treatment:
Elbow pain may be caused by tendinitis, bursitis, fractures, sprains, arthritis, cellulitis, tumors, and ulnar nerve entrapment.
IRG Pain Guide