Release of stiff elbow

Treatment to release a stiff elbow is typically performed if the patient is not able to straighten their arm more than halfway, or if they experience pain when making a fist or opening the fingers.

Stiffness of the elbow can be the result of inflammation within the joint, scar tissue building on the tendons or bone spurs/overgrowths that form in some joints.


Elbow stiffness often occurs as a result of trauma or injury to the elbow and occasionally elbow arthritis. Common causes of pain in the elbow include sprains from overstretching a ligament, tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow, a build-up of fluid over the elbow joint (bursitis), trapped nerves, osteoarthritis or repetitive strain injury.


Your consultant will physically examine your elbow and look for signs of swelling. You may need a CT, x-ray, or MRI scan for a more accurate diagnosis.


If the problem is caused by an inflammation, your consultant may suggest anti-inflammatory medication or an anti-inflammatory injection. They may also refer you for physiotherapy.

In severe cases, your consultant could recommend you for surgery. The release of stiff elbow surgery is often an arthroscopic (keyhole) procedure to remove spurs on the ends of bones, remove any loose bodies within the elbow or to treat other problems within the joint.


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