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Elbow Arthrolysis

Why might you need an Elbow Arthrolysis?

Patients who have reported severe stiffness in their elbow may be recommended to undergo an Arthrolysis. The goal of the operation is to improve movement in your elbow. If the condition has not responded well to physio therapy, surgery is an option. Your doctor may also recommend this procedure if you have damage from arthritis or an accidental injury.

elbow pain

What are the risks with an Elbow Arthrolysis?

Like other Arthroscopy procedures, the general risks are the same.

The risks from the surgery may include:

  • Small scars on your shoulder
  • Temporary pain and stiffness around your shoulder
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to surrounding nerves or blood vessels

How to prepare for an Elbow Arthrolysis

Your preparation needs will be tailored to you by your surgeon. If you are a smoker, you will be asked to stop as it increases risk of getting a chest/wound infection. Your doctor may also ask you to undergo some physio exercise to ensure you strengthen the surrounding muscles. You may be under general anaesthetic for your procedure, in which case you will be given dietary requirements prior to the surgery. We will make sure that you feel completely at ease, and give you every opportunity to ask as many questions as you’d like to your surgeon.

Your surgery

This type of surgery is a day case and will often only take around an hour. It will involve the surgeon making small incisions into your elbow and inserting an arthroscope. The arthroscope is equipped with a light that will help show images to the surgeon that will guide the scope. From these images, the damage will be identified and repaired with tiny instruments included in the arthroscope. After the procedure is complete, your surgeon will close the wound with adhesive strips and apply a bandage.

Once the anaesthetic has worn off you will be free to go home. You will be asked to rest your shoulder for as long as possible. This will reduce pain levels and swelling. You may also me recommended to wear a sling to keep your arm in position. The surgeon will assess the length of time needed to wear the sling. For pain relief, over the counter medication is fine. Gradually as you get better, you will be encouraged to undergo physio therapy. It can take several weeks to recover and several months to get full mobility back.

Information For GPs

If you are a GP and would like to refer a patient, ask a question or enquire about our education events, please visit our dedicated GP page, by clicking here.