Total elbow replacement

Total elbow replacement involves that replacement of the whole elbow joint.  This is performed for stiff arthritic elbows where the range of movement has become limiting or the pain in the elbow has become too severe for daily activities. 

The replacement artificial joint has two components, the humeral component and the ulna component, which are inserted to the humerous and ulna bones.  This may be secured using bone cement, although some replacements can bond directly to natural bone.  The two components are then linked together with a plastic bearing surface to allow free movement to the new joint.  The procedure takes approximately one and a half hours and patients usually remain in hospital for two days post-operatively. 


Patients are encouraged to mobilise early, however they may be required to wear a plaster cast or brace for the first two weeks to protect the muscles and soft tissue following the procedure.  Following the removal of cast or brace, patients will undertake a rehabilitation programme aimed at maximising strength and function. 

Typically, it could be up to six weeks until you have sufficient function to return to driving.  Total elbow replacements usually have a lifespan of approximately 10 years.  Post-operative stiffness is a recognised complication of elbow replacement.  It is not unusual to have an end result with a range of movement of 30 to 130 degrees.  However, the range achieved after replacement surgery is usually sufficient for all day to day activities.