In the elbow, as in other joints, osteoarthritis is characterized by pain, stiffness, mechanical symptoms, and weakness. It is most commonly seen in men with a history of heavy use of the extremity, such as manual labourers, weight lifters, and throwing athletes.
Patients present in their third to eighth decades with a characteristic history of mechanical- impingement pain at the extremes of motion, classically in extension more so than in flexion. Carrying anything, such as a briefcase, with the elbow extended is painful.
Medical treatment and physical therapy may be initiated in the early stages of the disease process. Surgical treatment is indicated for osteoarthritis of the elbow following failure of non- surgical treatment. Surgical treatment options include arthroscopic debridement, open arthroplasty and total elbow arthroplasty.
The improvement in arthroscopic debridement techniques is perhaps the greatest advancement in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the elbow in recent years. Studies on arthroscopic debridement for the management of OA of the elbow have shown satisfactory results at relatively short-term follow-up.
Motion achieved at the time of surgery was predictive of gains in postoperative motion. Patients with symptoms of <1-year duration achieved better postoperative motion than those with a longer duration of symptoms.