Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Elbow Replacement

Elbow replacement surgery, also known as total elbow arthroplasty, is a procedure to remove damaged parts of the elbow joint and replace them with artificial implants made of metal and plastic. It is typically recommended when the elbow joint is severely damaged and causes chronic pain or loss of mobility that does not improve with non-surgical treatments.

Common Symptoms

The main symptoms that may lead to elbow replacement surgery include:

  • Chronic elbow pain
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion in the elbow joint
  • Swelling and inflammation in the elbow

Cause & Anatomy

The elbow is a hinge joint formed by the articulation of three bones: the humerus (upper arm bone), the ulna, and the radius (forearm bones). Damage to the cartilage, bones, or surrounding soft tissues can cause pain and impaired mobility. Conditions that may necessitate elbow replacement include:

  • Osteoarthritis (age-related cartilage degeneration)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory arthritis)
  • Post-traumatic arthritis (from previous elbow injury)
  • Severe fractures of the elbow bones
  • Elbow instability due to ligament damage


Diagnosis typically involves a physical examination, medical history review, and imaging tests like X-rays or CT scans to assess the extent of joint damage.


Non-surgical treatments like medications, physical therapy, and injections are usually tried first. When these fail to provide adequate relief, elbow replacement surgery may be recommended.


During the procedure, the damaged portions of the humerus and ulna bones are removed and replaced with metal and plastic implant components that recreate the hinge joint. The implants may be linked or unlinked, depending on the condition of surrounding ligaments.


After surgery, patients typically need to keep the arm elevated for several days to reduce swelling. A careful rehabilitation program involving gentle exercises and physical therapy is crucial for regaining strength and mobility over several months.


Recovery Time?
Recovery typically takes around 3 months, with permanent restrictions on heavy lifting to prevent implant loosening.

Potential risks include infection, nerve damage, fracture, implant loosening over time requiring revision surgery.

Elbow implants are durable but may eventually loosen or wear out, necessitating another surgery to replace components.

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