Since cartilage, regardless of where it is in the body, cannot heal on its own, surgery is often the best treatment for damaged articular cartilage, which concerns elbow cartilage, too.
While some procedures aim to relieve pain, others are meant to repair and restore damaged articular cartilage.
If a patient suffers from pain in the elbow area and their surgeon suspects the culprit is the cartilage, they will most likely perform arthroscopy, a procedure used to visualize and treat problems inside a joint.
Arthroscopy is a great minimally invasive technique as, if a problem is found inside the joint, it can be repaired after the surgeon finds it.
During elbow arthroscopy, the orthopedic surgeon inserts a small camera, known as the arthroscope, into the elbow joint. It displays pictures on a monitor, and the surgeon uses the images to guide tiny surgical instruments. Since the arthroscope and surgical instruments are tiny, they can use very small incisions rather than the larger incision required for open surgery. This results in:
Elbow arthroscopy to treat cartilage problems may be recommended if the patient has a painful condition that fails to respond to non-surgical treatment, such as rest, physical therapy, and medications or injections. Injury, overuse, and the wear and tear that occur with aging are only some of the factors responsible for elbow cartilage problems. Arthroscopy can relieve pain in the case of many problems that damage the elbow cartilage. It may also be useful to remove loose pieces of bone and cartilage or release scar tissue blocking motion.
Following elbow arthroscopy to treat a cartilage problem, the patient may need 6 to 8 weeks to recover. They may have to limit their activity until their elbow strength and movement are back to normal. Furthermore, they may also have to participate in a physical rehabilitation program to ensure their elbow is healing properly.