Elbow arthritis (elbow arthritis)
- What is ulnar arthritis?
- Arthritis symptoms
- Arthritis causes
- Arthritis treatment
What is ulnar arthritis?
Inflammatory processes can occur in different parts of the body. Perhaps the most unpleasant of them are those that affect the joints of the bones - the joints. Arthritis is accompanied by acute pain syndrome and significantly limits the mobility of the limbs.
Elbow arthritis is inflammation of the elbow joint.
Elbow arthritis is a complex joint and consists of three bones:
Accordingly, there are the same number of simple joints:
- brachioradial (lat.articulatio humeroradialis);
- shoulder-elbow (lat.articulatio humeroulnaris);
- radioulnar (lat.articulatio radioulnaris proximalis).
Arthritis occurs in about 10% of all cases of elbow pain. They tend to spread quickly to other joints. So monoarthritis turns into polyarthritis. To diagnose the disease, the doctor conducts a conversation with the patient to clarify all the details of the clinical picture. Examination with palpation is performed. To clarify the localization of inflammation, X-rays are taken in two projections: direct and lateral. To find out the degree of inflammation, a blood test is taken.
If the X-ray is not enough, then an ultrasound scan is performed, a computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging is done. Additionally, atro- and thermography (examination with a thermal imager) are used. It is also possible to puncture the contents of the synovial bag, tissue biopsy to identify the etiology of the disease. By analyzing the chemical composition of the extracted contents, it is possible to identify the causative agents of the inflammatory process.
Forms of elbow arthritis:
The course of the disease and the methods of treatment used are different for adults and children. The statistics of the incidence of arthritis is as follows: 80% of people 65 years and older suffer from it. Every sixth of them becomes disabled. Tuberculous arthritis of the elbow is common among children and accounts for approximately 3% of all specific diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Risk factors for getting sick are divided into genetic - due to heredity (only in women) and acquired. In females, the disease is triggered by the HLA-B27 gene.
In most cases, the disease is rheumatoid in nature, i.e. develops gradually. Over time, a very serious complication may appear - articular contracture ("contraction, narrowing"). This is a forced fixation of the hand in one position, resulting from scarring of the surrounding soft tissues. They treat contracture by traction, using plaster casts and even operations. Rehabilitation procedures are very painful.
Another unpleasant consequence of elbow arthritis is phlegmon. A complication often develops in the form of bursitis - inflammation of the periarticular bag. Ankylosis can also be a consequence of elbow arthritis - immobility of the joint due to the complete fusion of the articular surfaces. The disease sometimes leads to damage to the cardiovascular system, skin and mucous membranes.
Why do many patients constantly postpone the visit to the doctor? This is due to the peculiarity of arthritic pain. They are aggravated in the morning or after prolonged immobility of the hand. Having developed the sore elbow a little, the sick person significantly reduces the discomfort. Most often, people seek medical help when the disease enters the acute phase and it becomes impossible to tolerate pain.
The duration of the treatment course depends on the stage at which the disease began to stop the inflammatory process. The sooner you seek help, the faster you can restore your working capacity. A mild form of ulnar arthritis heals within a week, a severe form - a few months.
After recovery, the patient should not neglect preventive measures. Stays in specialized sanatoriums are encouraged. If we neglect the pain, postpone treatment indefinitely, then ulnar arthritis will not only become chronic, but will also cause severe complications. Some of them can be fatal.
Elbow arthritis symptoms
Elbow arthritis is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- pain syndrome due to compression of the nerve roots during swelling - arthralgia (joint pain);
- general weakness;
- muscle aches;
- hyperthermia (fever);
- swelling due to excess synovial fluid in the joint capsule;
- redness of the skin;
- local temperature rise (elbow is hot to the touch);
- increased ESR - erythrocyte sedimentation rate - and the number of leukocytes, c-reactive protein in the blood;
- joint stiffness.
Most often, these signs appear in women. Symptom complexes for different types of arthritis practically do not differ. In addition to the listed symptoms, the patient is also concerned about the manifestations of concomitant diseases.
Important to remember! The symptoms of elbow arthritis are exacerbated if left untreated. The patient increasingly loses his ability to work, and the pain becomes unbearable. It is rather difficult to define the type of elbow arthritis at an early stage of the disease. But after receiving the research results, the attending physician will be able to choose the most effective therapeutic method.
Elbow arthritis causes
The causes of elbow arthritis are as follows:
- infections - bacteria, viruses, fungi (infectious arthritis);
- diseases of the digestive system;
- food poisoning (eteroarthritis);
- chronic pathologies of the upper respiratory tract (sinusitis, pharyngitis, tonsillitis and others);
- autoimmune disorders after stress or great psycho-emotional stress;
- allergic reactions;
- metabolic disorder;
- collagenoses - connective tissue diseases: rheumatism, lupus erythematosus and others;
- gout - a metabolic disease with excess salt deposition in the joints;
- psoriasis - a type of skin disease (psoriatic arthritis);
- viral hepatitis;
- sepsis - general infection with microbes;
- tuberculosis (tuberculous arthritis);
- brucellosis transmitted from domestic animals;
- gonorrhea - purulent inflammation of the genitourinary system;
excessive physical activity - movements that exceed the physiological limits of the joint;
- injuries: fractures, bruises, dislocations, sprains, tendon ruptures, burns, frostbite (traumatic arthritis);
- malignant tumors;
- unfavorable living conditions (unsanitary conditions, high humidity, poor ventilation, etc.).
Depending on the cause, arthritis can be primary (develop independently) or secondary (accompany other ailments). Suppurative ulnar arthritis is also divided into primary and secondary. The first type occurs due to the ingress of infectious pathogens directly into the joint through the broken skin. This is possible due to injury.
Secondary purulent arthritis develops due to the "attack" of pathogens from adjacent tissues (viruses, streptococci, etc.). There are more than 100 factors that trigger the development of arthritis. It is still unknown what causes many types of this disease.
Success in the treatment of any disease is largely determined by the correct diagnosis and identification of the cause that launched the pathological process. If ulnar arthritis is a consequence of another disease, then treatment should be directed to it first.
On the subject: Traditional methods of treating arthritis
Elbow arthritis treatment
The attending physician (orthopedist, rheumatologist, or arthrologist) usually prescribes conservative treatment.
Surgery is used only in very severe cases. The following therapeutic methods are used:
- drug therapy;
- physiotherapeutic procedures: magnetotherapy, amplipulse, electrophoresis, laser, ultrasound - phonophoresis, paraffin and ozokerite treatment;
- massage and physiotherapy exercises to activate blood supply and metabolic processes in a diseased limb;
Of the drugs, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs are primarily prescribed. To relieve pain, the arm is immobilized. Usually, it is enough to keep her in a sling for a while (kerchief). Sometimes special orthopedic aids are used, such as bandages or elbow pads.
The most diverse analgesics are prescribed:
Inflammation is relieved with non-steroidal drugs:
- Acetylsalicylic acid;
- Movalis or Meloxicam;
Steroid hormones also reduce the inflammatory process:
If the inflammation proceeds with the formation of pus, then an autopsy and removal of the contents is performed. In this case, the inflamed area is treated with strong anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics.
Cartilage tissue is restored using chondroprotectors:
- Chondroitin Sulfate;
Chondroprotectors are taken for long courses even after the end of the main treatment. They significantly accelerate cell regeneration. If arthritis is provoked by an infectious agent, then antibiotic therapy (etiotropic) is performed. Additionally, immunostimulants and anti-toxic agents are administered.
Forms of medications prescribed for elbow arthritis:
- tablets (for example, Diclofenac);
- solutions for intramuscular and intraarticular injection (eg, corticosteroids);
- gels (for example, Diklak);
- ointments (for example, Bishofit, Nikoflex, Menovazin);
- solutions for lotions (for example, Dimexide).
These medications have many side effects, overload the gastrointestinal tract, therefore, at the same time as taking them, it is necessary to follow a diet and prescribe drugs that support the digestive process. Physiotherapy, massage or physiotherapy exercises are possible only after the pain syndrome has been relieved. These therapies are essential to prevent muscle fiber atrophy.
Find out more: List of modern drugs and drugs for joints
Rehabilitation exercise therapy usually includes aerobic, strength, and movement exercises for specific muscle groups. Swimming and hiking are shown. You can also visit the gym, but exercise only under the supervision of an instructor. Modern methods of treating elbow arthritis include the use of stem cells. This technology is under development and testing.
- arthroscopy - removal of bone processes and other manipulations through a micro-incision;
- endoprosthetics - replacement of joint components with implants;
- arthrodesis - complete immobilization of the joint;
- arthrolysis or Wolff's operation - excision of fibrous adhesions;
- synovectomy - removal of the affected synovium;
- osteotomy - removal of a piece of bone to relieve pressure on a joint
- resection - removal of a joint or part of it;
- arthroplasty - joint replacement.
The main goal of therapy is to stop the process of dystrophy of the affected joint. The role of restoring normal blood supply and metabolic processes is great in this. In cases where arthritis is a secondary disease, i.e. complication of another disease, therapy must necessarily be comprehensive. Without getting rid of the root cause, all efforts to stop inflammation will be fruitless. If there is no treatment for arthritis of the elbow joint, then the pathological changes in the hand become irreversible.
If you have persistent pain in the elbow area, you should see a specialist as soon as possible. The inflammatory process, which has not yet passed into the acute stage, is arrested much easier and faster. Only timely treatment can avoid unpleasant complications and disability.
Author of the article: Kaplan Alexander Sergeevich | Orthopedist
Education: diploma in the specialty "General Medicine" received in 2009 at the Medical Academy. I. M. Sechenov. In 2012 completed postgraduate studies in Traumatology and Orthopedics at the City Clinical Hospital named after Botkin at the Department of Traumatology, Orthopedics and Disaster Surgery.