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Self help for elbow?

Hi. I'm wondering if anyone has been given a new elbow joint and is happy with the results. A few years ago the consultant said mine would need replacing when either the pain was unbearable or my movement very limited. Some days both are the case and I'm being referred again. I would rather try to improve it without an op but I can't find any advice for improving a damaged elbow. The damage is due to RA and I'm on MTX, Hydroxy, Cimzia and sometimes Celebrex. Any suggestions much appreciated. Even whether any supports would help.

Thank you

6 Replies

Hi SusanJones I have had RA now for over 40 years and have had a number of operations due to deteriation of joints caused by the RA. I am on Anti- TNF Infliximab for the last ten years which is marvellous, however, I had a bursitis on my right elbow a few years ago, caused by the RA, that turned septic and had to go into hospital for a couple of weeks to have a course of intravenous antibiotics and a series of operations to disperse the sepsis. This caused a weakness, which resulted in having a complete elbow joint replacement just over a year ago. It has been a complete success and couldn't be better. I have to watch that I don't abuse it as the fitting goes into the Radius in the upper arm and the Ulna in the forearm. The Ulna being a small narrow bone can be the weakness if the joint comes loose. I am completely happy with the result and wouldn't hesitate to have the other one done if it needed it. I hope you get the care I have experienced from the medical team. Best wishes, Brian


Thank you. That's helpful. If the pain stays like this I think I'll go ahead with the op..



I have had both my elbows replaced and both operations were successful. You have to work quite hard to get your arm bending again but it takes the pain away. The kind of joint I have had put has bushes in the bending part of the joint which can wear so I imagine that at some stage I will have to have these replaced according to my surgeon's original advice but they've been going for quite a few years now with no problems! I wouldn't hesitate to have the operation if I were in your shoes again, as the pain is unbearable and it so limits your ability to do things. They give you a brachial block as well as a general and so you really aren't in pain when you come round.

Good luck.



Thank you, Ailsa, that is reassuring. The pain really is unbearable at night time which of course disturbs my sleep, which is not such a good thing all round. It also means I can't do large parts of my job as a primary school teacher. I shall see what the consultant says and know a replacement elbow may be the best option. Susan


Hi - I'm new to this site! I had an elbow replacement many years ago as I was suffering as you are with little movement and much pain. Op was a success (much painful physio for several weeks after though - be prepared!) I do not regret having had it done - it's now pain free, though does not fully extend.

The surgeon told me - some time after the op which I'd had done privately - that he rarely replaced elbows on nhs as by the time date for surgery came round the patients tend to report the elbow has settled down and they no longer want surgery!!

This in fact has been the case with my other elbow, which at the time was just as bad. Although I still have some limitation (it will not stretch out fully) I now have little pain, and am happy I didn't rush into a second operation. Not that it wouldn't have been successful, but I always bear in mind that a replacement will not last for ever and subsequent replacements are rarely as successful as the first, so I've been told.

Hope this helps.


Thank you for replying. I did know there would be physio. Hopefully no worse than the current pain? My elbow neither extends fully nor retracts fully at the moment, so I hope it will be at least the same but without the pain. I hope yours continues to function well. Susan


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