The stiff elbow

The elbow can become stiff after injuries, arthritis, inflammation, loose bodies and surgery. Sometimes the restriction in movement can be severe and affects daily activities.

Elbow stiffness may not necessarily be painful.

Examination to assess the range and functional ability is important. Investigations will be required to identify the cause, and these include X-rays, CT or MRI scans.

Treatment will involve physiotherapy. Surgery (keyhole or open) is possible. After keyhole surgery, the patient will have small wounds around the elbow. Open surgery will have larger wounds. All these wounds will take approximately 10 days to heal. Patients will be allowed to mobilise the elbow immediately as comfort allows.