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Zimmer, Inc.

Elbow Pain Relief: Surgical Treatment Options


Most people will not need elbow surgery, but in many cases, surgery may be effective in minimizing or eliminating elbow pain when other treatment methods have failed. Many advances have been made in recent years, allowing for less invasive surgical procedures. Such minimally invasive procedures are revolutionizing the way patients experience and recover from surgery, often resulting in less postoperative pain, a faster recovery period, and a shorter hospital stay.  


Often the first surgical treatment for elbow osteoarthritis is arthroscopy, a procedure used to see, diagnose, and treat problems inside the joint. Arthroscopy typically involves inserting a small camera into the elbow and then treating identifiable problems. Some of the more common procedures performed during arthroscopy include:

  • Trimming damaged cartilage
  • Removing loose debris within the elbow (debridement)
  • Irrigating the inside of the elbow (lavage)


This type of elbow surgery involves a restructuring of the bones to shift stresses from diseased tissue to more healthy tissue.

Total elbow replacement

In elbow replacement surgery, the painful surfaces of the damaged elbow are replaced with artificial elbow parts. One part fits into the humerus (upper arm), and the other part fits into the ulna (forearm). The two parts are then connected and held together by a locking pin. The resulting hinge allows the elbow to bend.