Arthroscopic Treatment for Elbow Arthritis in Pittsburgh, PA
Elbow arthritis develops when healthy joint cartilage becomes damaged through overuse, age-related degeneration, chronic inflammation, or an injury such as a fracture or dislocation. The condition can be extremely painful and interfere with daily tasks that involve bending the arm. Arthroscopic treatment may be considered if elbow arthritis does not respond sufficiently to conservative therapies, such as rest, physical therapy, medications, and corticosteroid injections.
Which Types of Elbow Arthritis Can Be Treated With Arthroscopy?
To provide pain relief and improve joint range of motion, elbow arthroscopy may be performed to address early-stage rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis of the elbow.
Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Elbow
The most common type of elbow arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the connective tissue that lines the joint capsule (synovium). As the joint lining becomes irritated and inflamed, the joint space becomes narrower. Also, in response to the inflammation, the body releases chemicals that thicken the synovium and damage the surrounding bones, cartilage, and soft tissues.
Osteoarthritis of the Elbow
Healthy cartilage in the elbow joint cushions the bones and provides a smooth gliding surface that facilitates pain-free movement. As the cartilage breaks down and wears away over time, the bones may begin to grind painfully against each other, which can lead to the development of bone spurs. In addition, loose pieces of cartilage can become trapped in the joint, causing a catching sensation during movement and further contributing to the degeneration resulting from mechanical wear.
What Does Elbow Arthroscopy Involve?
Similar to shoulder arthroscopy, elbow arthroscopy is performed through several small incisions over the elbow joint. After inserting a tiny camera and specialized surgical instruments through these portals, the surgeon can:
- Remove an inflamed synovium
- Shave down bone spurs
- Remove loose bodies floating in the elbow joint
- Remove scar tissue from the elbow joint
In comparison to traditional open surgery, which involves large incisions and muscle dissection, elbow arthroscopy is much less invasive. As such, it usually results in less postoperative pain and a faster recovery.
Consult With a Respected Surgeon
Christopher C. Schmidt, MD, is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon who performs elbow arthroscopy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Due in part to his years of experience and mastery of complex elbow surgery techniques, Dr. Schmidt is widely regarded as one of the best elbow surgeons in the area.
If you’d like to discuss arthroscopic treatment for elbow arthritis with Dr. Schmidt, call (877) 471-0935 to schedule an appointment at one of his offices near Pittsburgh, PA.