What is an elbow replacement?
Elbow replacement may be recommended if you have unresolved pain due to osteoarthritis. The procedure is also performed in cases where the bone in the upper or lower arm is broken very close to the elbow, or when there is a tumor in the elbow area. It may sometimes be recommended for people who've had injuries or repetitive activities that have caused chronic stiffness of the elbow.
What to expect from elbow replacement surgery
The bones and cartilage of the elbow are removed to make room for the "new" elbow, a prosthetic device made of two sections of metal connected by a plastic and metal hinge that mimics the movement of the human elbow. These prosthetic joints come in different sizes to accommodate different-sized people.
During the surgery you will be under anesthesia (sleeping) and you won't feel anything. Once the surgery is complete, you may be required to wear a splint for some time, to stabilize your bones and keep things from shifting. Physical therapy may also be recommended once your stint is removed, to get your arm moving again and regain strength and coordination.
Recovery from elbow replacement surgery may take up to a year, depending on your physical condition and circumstances. You may also experience some limitations, such as how much weight you're allowed to lift, as overexertion can cause your replacement elbow to break or loosen.
Nonetheless, for most people with elbow pain that hasn't been helped by medication and other conventional means, elbow replacement does provide pain relief.