Arthritis of the elbow joint – the danger of pathology, diagnosis and treatment

Following WHO statistics, elbow arthritis affects up to 40% of older people. This pathology accounts for up to 55% of all abnormalities of the musculoskeletal system. Against this background, the interest of patients in preventive measures and methods for the timely detection of the disease seems logical. The effectiveness of therapy also depends on these two factors, as well as on the correct determination of the causes that provoked the disease. A further review provides descriptions of etiological factors, a symptomatic picture, as well as diagnostic and prophylactic measures. The result of this information will be recommendations for treatment.

General characteristics of the disease

This pathology is the result of a complex manifestation of morphological, anatomical and physiological changes in the structure of the elbow joint. Most patients find it in their home even before visiting a medical institution, but quite often in the absence of a qualified differential diagnosis, similar signs can be attributed to similar anomalies with identical symptoms and localization.

In most of the episodes of the disease, the course is acute in the initial stages. In the absence of timely effective therapy of the disease takes a chronic form. The morphological feature of this disease is a local lesion of the entire joint tissue. The consequences may be a decrease in joint mobility, a decline in performance and the ability to exercise. In severe advanced cases, the disease can lead to disability.

The treatment of this ailment is carried out by doctors of specialized specialization – orthopedists or rheumatologists. In some cases, surgeons have such competence. Ancillary therapy can be provided by physiotherapists or nutritionists.

Etiological roots

In orthopedic practice, there are two categories of provoking causes:

  1. Endogenous factors.
  2. Exogenous causes.
Shishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologistShishkevich Vladimir, orthopedic and traumatologist, project editor-in-chief ExpertNews.

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Etiology of endogenous nature

The most influential factors in the onset of arthritis with localization in the elbow are genetic heredity, leaching of calcium salts, destructive changes in connective tissue, the effects of myositis, and injuries.

However, the category of endogenous causes include:

  • Hormonal imbalance;
  • Autoimmune pathology in which antibodies perceive healthy cells as foreign pathogenic agents;
  • Progressive rheumatism;
  • Infection with pathogenic microflora, provoking brucellosis, leptospirosis, tuberculosis and other dangerous diseases;
  • Past, but not completely treated digestive tract diseases – pancreatitis, cholecystitis, hepatitis and other gastrointestinal anomalies;
  • Allergic components;
  • Impaired microcirculation of lymph and blood in the elbow and composite bones;
  • Pathological destruction of cartilage;
  • The consequences of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke;
  • Diseases of the central or peripheral nervous system;
  • Disturbed physiology of the metabolic process.

To these primary sources of elbow joint disease, rheumatologists and orthopedists also include diseases of the urinary system, kidneys, postoperative complications, endocrine pathologies. At the same time, exogenous causes play a significant role in the development of this disease. It is customary to refer to them frequent or stable mechanical effects on the elbow joint region, intoxication with toxic components, the effect of radiation background and ultraviolet radiation.

Classification of pathology of the elbow joint

In orthopedic practice, it is customary to distinguish between different forms of arthritis that affects the elbow joint according to the nature of the impact, localization, stage of progression, course, prognosis and symptoms.

Depending on the intensity of the lesion, a chronic and acute form of the disease is distinguished.

Accordingly, the prognosis is established based on the dynamics of the development of the disease – acute, subacute, favorable, cautious or unfavorable.

Dynamics itself is characterized by stable signs or periodic manifestation. Depending on the effect on the general condition of the patient, the course of the disease can be severe and mild.

In addition to these characteristics, pathogenicity can manifest itself differently in the elbow joint:

  • With the onset of the inflammatory process;
  • With destructive changes;
  • With violation of anatomical signs;
  • With dysfunction of the articular apparatus.

The nature of the lesion of the components of the joint indicates the presence of purulent, fibrinous, serous exudate (discharge). In addition, the process may be accompanied by greater or lesser dynamics of synovial fluid depletion.

Characteristic signs of arthritis in the elbow joint

This pathology is characterized by symptoms common to the whole group of diseases with inflammation and destructive abnormalities – arthritis and arthrosis.

In this case, there are three stages in which the progression of the disease is manifested by signs that are different in intensity and nature.

The main ones are:

  • Soreness;
  • Swelling;
  • Swelling;
  • Redness (hyperemia);
  • Increased local body temperature;
  • Characteristic crunch;
  • Nausea;
  • Inactivity of the joint;
  • General malaise.

These signs are detected during a visual examination by a doctor, sometimes the patient can independently identify abnormal deviations in the joint, its forms and in his own feelings of discomfort and pain.

Additional clinical examination and special diagnostic methods, which will be discussed later, help to identify hidden forms of the symptomatic picture. Usually at the initial stage, the symptoms are barely noticeable or not defined at all. But during a preventive examination, deviations are revealed in the analysis of ESR – the erythrocyte sedimentation rate in the blood structure. Also, the onset of this disease is indicated by the results of percussion and palpation.

Signs in the second stage of the disease are usually more pronounced and already acquire stable characteristics. A crunch becomes more noticeable, a stable pulling soreness occurs, the prevalence of swelling increases, risking to develop into a large tumor.

The third stage of the disease is accompanied by an almost complete lack of joint mobility, stable sharp pains, severe redness, increased joint volume.


At the slightest suspicion of this pathology, or when identifying identical symptoms, the doctor sends the patient for additional diagnosis.

The first thing to do is to take blood tests for the content of C-reactive protein, some components and general blood characteristics. At the same time, laboratory tests are being assigned to study the microplora bacterial inoculation. For this purpose, a diagnostic puncture of the synovial fluid from the elbow joint is performed.

Hardware diagnostic methods are based on the comprehensive obtaining of the result through computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound examination and radiography.

The purpose of these studies is to obtain information about the structural composition of all joint tissues and individual organs – cartilage, bone, muscle group, ligaments, synovial bag and synovial fluid, skin of the joint.

In addition, in the process of laboratory and hardware diagnostics, the anatomical features of the joint as a whole and in particular of its individual structural elements are studied.

Integrated diagnostic methods also allow you to establish key causative factors for the appearance of ulnar arthritis in the area of ​​the elbow joint.

Treatments for ulnar arthritis of the joints

A treatment course will be effective only if it is prescribed by a rheumatologist or orthopedist taking into account the anamnesis, clinical examination, diagnostic data and laboratory tests.

Treatment takes place in several stages, the purpose of which is:

  • Elimination of the causes of the disease;
  • Relief of pain;
  • Suppression of the inflammatory process;
  • Activation of the regenerative functions of affected tissues;
  • Restoring the mobility of the elbow joint.

To achieve these effects, medical treatment, physiotherapy (amplipulse, magnetotherapy, electrophoresis and others), physical therapy exercises, and external remedies based on natural components, including traditional medicine recipes (ointments, creams, balms, infusions) are used.

Express methods allow you to achieve a high intensity of treatment, but you can not do without medications in this case.

The treatment course must include:

  • Anesthetic drugs – Methadone, Tramadol, Capsaicin, Acetaminophen, other analgesics;
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines – Piroxicam, Nimesil, Celebrex, Indomethacin, other components;
  • Steroid hormones to stabilize the hormonal background and relieve inflammation – Triamicenalon, Prednisalon, Nimesulide, Hydrocartisone;
  • Chondropathic preparations for cartilage tissue regeneration and restoration of the physiological volume of synovial fluid – Chondrolons, Structrum, Arthra, Glucosamine, Chondroetinsulfate;
  • External preparations for the removal of puffiness – ointments, balms (Diclofenac, Bischofite, Nikoflex, Diclac gel, Dimexide.

To suppress pathogenic microflora, developing against the background of the inflammatory process, antibiotics of a directed or extensive spectrum of action are used.

To exclude overdose with the complex use of different groups of drugs and drug intoxication, doctors recommend the use of antibiotics of prolonged action (with a long period of therapeutic effect). This includes preparations of the tetracycline, amoxicillin, penicillin series.

At the same time, vitamin complexes, amino acids, minerals are prescribed to stabilize the metabolic process in the affected tissues and improve the structure of blood vessels at the site of arthritis localization:

  • Arthrolysis;
  • Synovectomy
  • Arthroplasty;
  • Endoprosthetics;
  • Osteotomy
  • Arthrodesis;
  • Arthrolysis;
  • Resection.

Prophylactic indications

Preventing the development of arthritis of the elbow joint is much simpler than it seems and much easier than treating it later.

To do this, it is enough to observe hygiene and safety measures during work or playing sports. It should be at the slightest manifestation of the anomaly to reduce the physical load on the limbs, take a course of strengthening the immune physiology.

Persons suffering from metabolic disorders or not observing a diet should control their weight, balance the diet to strengthen bone tissue and cartilage with the addition of calcium-containing products.

Despite the effectiveness of many available pharmacy drugs and traditional medicine, self-medication is not recommended – some of the medications, having a positive effect on some tissues, can provoke a hormonal disorder or abnormalities in other tissues. A similar situation with folk recipes. Providing a complex effect on the body, they can contribute to the development of chronic pathologies in the regression phase. Therefore, to achieve a full therapeutic effect, one should strictly follow the recommendations of the attending physician and use all available means.