- What is arthrosis of the elbow joint?
- Causes of arthrosis of the elbow joint
- Symptoms of arthrosis of the elbow joint
- The degree of arthrosis of the elbow joint
- Deforming arthrosis of the elbow joint
- Elbow arthrosis treatment
What is arthrosis of the elbow joint?
Arthrosis of the elbow joint is a disturbance in its normal functioning, caused by a number of reasons and having a dystrophic - degenerative character. You can also find the name epicondylosis. The place of localization of the pathological process is the area of the epicondyle. The disease is characterized by the fact that the volume of synovial fluid in the joint decreases, which leads to increased friction, narrowing of the joint space and the proliferation of osteophytes. Hence the occurrence of pain, and limitation of mobility. An important characteristic of arthrosis is that when it occurs, all elements of the joint are covered, including the synovial capsule, synovial membrane, periarticular muscles, ligaments and subchondral bone.
The elbow joint is not very often susceptible to the development of arthrosis, since it does not experience such stresses as, for example, the ankle or hip joints. Nevertheless - the disease occurs, it affects more often older people who have crossed the 45-year line. Perhaps the pathology begins to develop much earlier, but due to the fact that patients almost never make such complaints, it is generally accepted that the manifestation of arthrosis occurs precisely at this age. The high-risk zone includes women, due to hormonal changes in their bodies, as well as athletes (for example, tennis players) and people engaged in this type of work where the elbow has an impressive load (for example, writers, professional drivers, pianists).
Causes of arthrosis of the elbow joint
The causes of arthrosis of the elbow joint are as follows:
- Elbow injury that occurs at a young age. These are bruises and injuries of the menisci, and fractures of the wrist bones, and ligament ruptures, and dislocations.
- A metabolic disorder in the body, which leads to the fact that the joint does not receive the elements necessary for its normal functioning.
- Rheumatoid arthritis, which affects all joints as the disease progresses.
- Violation of the drinking regime.
- Chronic diseases: tonsillitis, caries, gastritis, cholecystitis.
- Inflammatory processes arising from infection inside the articular bag.
- Age-related changes.
- Endocrine gland diseases.
- External factors associated with working conditions and human life.
- Hereditary factor. Scientists have found that arthrosis develops more often in those people whose closest relatives suffered from this ailment.
- Toxic poisoning of the body.
- Frequent respiratory diseases, as well as hypothermia.
Symptoms of arthrosis of the elbow joint
It is customary to distinguish 4 large groups of symptoms that characterize arthrosis of the elbow joint:
- Painful sensations when bending, extending the arm, when turning it, and even when walking. But at the initial stage, these symptoms are not very pronounced and appear only after a certain load, for example, lifting weights, playing sports. Then, as the arthrosis progresses, pain in the elbow will be observed even at rest. Radiation to the cervical spine quite often occurs, therefore, the symptoms of arthrosis of the elbow joint are often associated with symptoms of cervical osteoarthritis.
- Rough and dry crunch on elbow movement. This sound is created by rubbing bones against each other. The further the disease goes, the louder and louder the crunch becomes. Moreover, it is accompanied by pain. It is worth distinguishing voiced clicks, without the accompanying unpleasant sensations, which can sometimes be heard when performing elbow movements - these sounds are the norm and do not pose a threat.
Limitation of mobility in the elbow joint, decrease in the amplitude of arm rotation. This is due to overgrowth of bone spines, narrowing of the joint space, and also due to muscle spasms. Often, with elbow arthrosis, the so-called Thompson symptom is observed. It is expressed in the fact that the patient is not able to keep the dorsally bent hand clenched into a fist. From such an “uncomfortable” position for a sick person, he quickly switches to the mode of spreading his fingers. Vetla's symptom is also characteristic, when the patient hardly fulfills the doctor's request to bend and straighten his arms in the forearm at the level of the chin. The movements of the unaffected hand will be easier and faster.
- The elbow joint is undergoing changes. They are associated with the proliferation of osteophytes, an increase in the volume of synovial fluid, which presses on the sore joint from the inside. The elbow becomes swollen, and bumps may appear on it.
The degree of arthrosis of the elbow joint
An immediate visit to a doctor when the first symptoms appear is the key to successful treatment. But, unfortunately, most patients hesitate to go to the doctor and ignore the initial manifestations of the disease. Although they are noticeable already at the first stage. In general, it is customary to distinguish 3 degrees of development of the disease, with symptoms characteristic of each of them.
Arthrosis of the elbow joint 1 degree
The onset of the disease is characterized by slight painful sensations, which most often appear after physical exertion on the damaged joint. There are no external signs of the disease, but the doctor, during the examination, may notice a slight decrease in muscle tone, as well as difficulties in moving the forearm.
If, when trying to move the hand back behind the thigh, as well as when flexing and extending it, the patient experiences difficulties, then this clearly indicates the onset of arthrosis and the need for additional research. To exclude cervical osteochondrosis and tunnel syndrome, an X-ray examination is necessary. If arthrosis has begun to have its destructive effect on the joint, then a slight narrowing of the gap can be seen in the picture.
Arthrosis of the elbow joint 2nd degree
The pains at this stage of the development of the disease increase significantly, the patient suffers them much harder. It is at this time that most people go to the doctor for help. This happens due to the fact that even at rest, discomfort will continue to haunt a person. Hand movements may be accompanied by a dry crunch. The normal functionality of the joint is impaired, and it can be unbearable for the patient to move the arm back or bend it. There may be some muscle atrophy. Due to the fact that pain begins to haunt a person constantly, the quality of his life is deteriorating. It becomes more difficult to carry out ordinary household activities.
X-ray examination gives the following picture: the bony growths are multiple, they are clearly visible, the joint tissue has multiple irregularities and deformities, but outwardly they may remain invisible. Visually, you can see only edema, which is characteristic of the stage of exacerbation of the disease and is formed due to the arrival of synovial fluid.
Elbow arthrosis grade 3
The pains acquire a strong aching character, do not let go of a person even during a night's rest. Movement is significantly limited. Often, patients who do not see a doctor fix the arm in a position that is comfortable for the joint. This is done so that only in this way it is possible to reduce the intensity of pain.
On the X-ray image, you can see completely destroyed cartilage, the complete absence of the joint space, multiple bone growths. The disease becomes detectable even with the naked eye, since joint deformities are visible. One arm may become shorter than the other. It will no longer be possible to completely get rid of the pathology at this stage. The person is unable to perform the usual actions.
On the subject: Pain in the elbow joint, what to do?
Deforming arthrosis of the elbow joint
Deforming arthrosis accounts for about half of all arthrosis of the elbow joints. For deforming arthrosis, similar complaints are characteristic. They consist in painful sensations in the area of the elbow joint, with their subsequent increase.
Depending on the stage of the disease, of which three are also distinguished, the X-ray picture will also depend. The further the disease progresses, the more pronounced the bony growths, the narrower the joint space and the stronger the deformity of the elbow. Nevertheless, there are some peculiarities:
At the first stage, growths are fixed on the distal epiphysis of the humerus, but they do not increase significantly in the subsequent. The most dangerous are growths that appear around the joint of the elbow bone. Sometimes they are pressed into the cubital fossa and already at the first stage make it difficult to move the hand. Sometimes they are localized mainly near the coronoid process and do not allow the arm to be freely extended.
- In the second stage, osteophytes almost evenly surround the entire joint of the elbow, but the functioning of the limb is possible. The limitation occurs gradually. Growths surrounding the radial head are often observed.
- The third stage, in addition to the growth of osteophytes, is also characterized by sclerosis of the adjacent lobes of the bones.
The articular end of the humerus undergoes rearrangement and deformation to a greater extent, and the bony growths themselves are localized near the glenoid cavity. Pain and the inability to perform hand movements lead to the fact that intra-articular formations must be removed surgically.
Elbow arthrosis treatment
Treatment of arthrosis of the elbow joint is reduced to the following principles:
- The need to perform exercises designed to develop a sore spot.
- Refusal to overload the sore arm.
- Using medications to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Surgery indicated in the most advanced cases.
- Using alternative treatments.
The main directions of therapy:
- Controlling pain.
- Increased mobility of the elbow joint.
- Leading the right lifestyle.
On the subject: Diet for arthrosis
To achieve the result, it is necessary to use not one, but several methods of treatment, to combine and replace them. Scientists have found that exercise is one of the most effective ways to treat arthrosis of the elbow joint. They not only improve overall tone, but also reduce pain and improve blood flow. When done correctly, the exercises are absolutely safe, and also have no contraindications and side effects.
But naturally, before you start exercising, you need to relieve inflammation.
The treatment regimen is as follows:
- Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, either intramuscularly or in the form of injections directly into the inflammation zone (diclofenac, voltaren, ortofen). If necessary, repeat the course.
- During treatment, a gentle regimen is required, therefore, it is recommended to fix the diseased limb with a bandage or kerchief.
- Manual therapy also gives good results.
- After the acute inflammation has been removed, it is advisable to attend physiotherapy courses, which consist in conducting electrophoresis sessions with hydrocortisone, as well as laser therapy, paraffin wraps.
- To restore cartilage tissue, chondroprotectors are prescribed. The most popular of them are Glucosamine Sulfate, Structum, Ostenil. Chondroprotectors can be used in the form of an ointment, and are sometimes injected directly into the elbow joint. (What chondroprotectors to take for arthrosis?)
- When the pain stops bothering the patient, it is advisable to start performing a physical training complex. It is useful to visit a massage parlor.
- All patients with arthrosis are shown sanatorium treatment carried out annually.
- Surgical intervention is necessary when all other methods have proved to be ineffective, and the disease has reached its climax.
As a rule, an integrated approach to the treatment of arthrosis of the elbow joint gives excellent results and the prognosis is very favorable. At the same time, if the disease is ignored for a long time, then this can lead to difficulty in movement or complete limitation of the function of the forearm, deformation of the joint and a sharp decrease in the quality of life.
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.