Arthroscopic Elbow Contracture Release Performed in Pittsburgh, PA

Muscular athlete gripping his painful elbow

Elbow contracture, or stiffness, can make it difficult to bend the arm. Many people who experience elbow stiffness are able to carry on their daily activities and function well despite their inability to fully extend or flex their arm. However, the range of elbow motion considered adequate for most adults may be insufficient for a high-level athlete who requires full elbow extension to participate in certain sports, such as gymnastics and weightlifting. In that scenario, a surgical procedure known as an arthroscopic elbow contracture release may be considered.

What Causes Elbow Contracture?

Elbow stiffness can result from various conditions and injuries, such as:

  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Bone spurs (osteophytes)
  • Loose bodies such as cartilage fragments floating in the joint
  • An elbow joint dislocation or a radial head fracture malunion
  • Post-traumatic scar tissue

Elbow contracture is often treated conservatively in non-athletes. For instance, many people achieve good results with activity modifications, physical therapy, and splinting.

Surgical Release

While elbow contracture release surgery can be effective for restoring range of motion, the procedure is not right for everyone. In general, a good candidate is a disciplined and high-performing athlete whose sports training or performance is unacceptably inhibited by elbow stiffness.

When performing an elbow contracture release procedure, a surgeon will make one or more incisions near the elbow, then remove damaged tissues in and around the joint. Arthroscopic elbow contracture release is a complex procedure that involves the use of a miniature camera and specialized surgical tools, which allow the surgeon to view and access the elbow joint through tiny incisions. As compared to open surgery, this minimally invasive approach minimizes disruption to surrounding tissues and typically leads to a faster recovery.

Request an Appointment

If you would like to explore your treatment options for a stiff elbow, you are encouraged to meet with Christopher C. Schmidt, MD. Dr. Schmidt is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and elbow specialist who can help you decide if an arthroscopic elbow contracture release is right for you. Contact Dr. Schmidt’s office to schedule a consultation at one of his three locations in Pittsburgh, PA.