The Importance of the Elbow: An overview

It’s hard to think of a better, albeit less obvious, analogy than comparing an elbow to an Olympic rowing team. But it’s a great comparison. Consider – a precision rowing team works in unison, each member’s actions timed perfectly for maximum effect and power. Now imagine one member who doesn’t pull in unison with the others – or can’t be counted on when the moment counts. One single member out of sync and the entire team’s potential and power is compromised.

Your elbow works in much the same way. There’s a number of moving parts that balance and counter-balance each other in unison to make dextrous activities happen – while preventing you from overextending yourself unknowingly.



What are my Elbow Damage and Surgical Options?

And like being in open water, there are many dangers that can befall our elbows. From the commonly named ‘tennis elbow’ to rheumatoid arthritis and even breaks and compound fractures, there’s a lot of potential issues that can impact your elbow in all sorts of bad ways. It’s not all bad new though – in some cases damage can be surgically repaired without needing full replacement.



What are The Types of Elbow Replacement?

But if the damage is extensive and more likely, the pain severe, your doctor might recommend elbow replacement surgery. Your elbow joint – which is a hinge joint that consists of three bones (the humerus, the ulna, and the radius) can be replaced either in part or entirely.

In a total elbow replacement surgery, the damaged parts of the ulna and humerus are surgically replaced with metal stems linked by a plastic hinge. As a reminder bones are very hard tube-like structures that contain a soft center – into which these stems are inserted into.

In an unlinked replacement, the device comes in two separate pieces that aren’t connected to each other. This design uses the existing and natural surrounding ligaments to hold the joint together – this can, however, make it more prone to dislocation than a full linked replacement.



Preparation and Evaluation

Elbows may be simple to visualize but they mask a great deal of complexity and preparation for a successful outcome. You may need for instance to complete a full physical examination before surgery, and of course, patients with chronical conditions such as heart or liver disease may need to be evaluated by specialists in those fields first. In addition, some medications, even over-the-counter ones, may need to be stopped before the surgery to avoid complications and bleeding.

You should also consider the effects of surgery awarded. You may need help with every day tasks such as dressing, bathing, reaching high shelves or carrying items that you could carry before for a few weeks until you’ve healed. You may need assistance in driving as well post your elbow surgery or elbow replacement.



Next steps

At Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management, we understand the need to get your elbow back into rowing shape. Whether it’s pain management or investigating your options, our qualified experts are at your disposal in the Manatee or Sarasota County areas. We will always be sure to explain not only the upsides of elbow surgery and elbow replacement but also the potential risks and complications that you may experience. Common risks include the risk of infection (a complication possible in any surgery); problems with the implant itself, nerve injury or complications in wound healing.



What are my Long-term Benefits?

It’s important to remember that while any surgical procedure carries inherent risk, most patients having had elbow surgery repair report an improved quality of life after total elbow replacement (even if they don’t win Olympic medals in rowing afterward). You can regain mobility and movement, and gain the freedom of enjoying everyday life.

While we’ve covered a lot of information here, to make an informed decision we recommend you contact Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management today and arrange a consultation with one of our qualified and caring staff.



Contact an Elbow Replacement Specialist Today

Or contact our office today at (941)792-1404 


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