In some cases, total elbow replacement is necessary. During elbow replacement surgery, the damaged elbow areas are replaced with artificial parts (a prosthesis). One part fits into the upper arm (humerus), and the other part fits into the forearm (ulna). The two parts are then connected and held together by a pin. The resulting hinge allows the elbow to bend. Successful joint replacement surgery may relieve your pain and stiffness and allow you to resume some of your normal daily activities that you have otherwise been unable to do.
If you require total elbow replacement, you should take these points into consideration to ensure the success and longevity of your elbow replacement:
- Avoid repetitive lifting.
- Avoid “jamming” activities such as hammering.
- Avoid “impact” sports such as boxing, rugby, or football.
- Avoid any physical activities involving quick stop-start motion, twisting, or impact stresses on the elbow replacement.
- Avoid pushing heavy objects.
It is always important to stay healthy and active, but consult with your surgeon before beginning any new sport or activity to find out what type and intensity of activity is appropriate and the potential effects on your new elbow.
If you had a total elbow replacement, you could remain in the hospital for one to three days.
Physical therapy is an extremely important part of the success of elbow surgery and your full participation is necessary to achieve an optimal outcome. Some degree of pain, discomfort, and stiffness can be expected during the early days of physical therapy.
The medical staff and therapist will teach you proper movements and exercises to do so that you can regain your strength and mobility in your elbow. Continue to move the way you were taught by the physical therapist and return to activity slowly. Don’t be surprised if you feel a little stiff at first; it may take a few months for a complete recovery. It is very important to keep all your scheduled follow-up visits with your surgeon.