Elbow contracture refers to a stiff elbow with limited range of motion. It is a common complication following elbow surgery, fractures, dislocations, and burns.
The normal functional range of motion for an elbow is 30-145 degrees. A stiff or contracted elbow may be diagnosed when the ability to extend or flex the arm is lessened by 30 degrees or more. Flexion contractures greater than 45 degrees will significantly affect the patient’s ability to perform activities of daily living such as bathing and eating.
Symptoms of Elbow Contracture include the following:
Causes and risk factors associated with elbow contracture, include:
Elbow conditions should be evaluated by an Orthopedic surgeon for proper diagnosis and treatment. Your surgeon will review your medical history, and perform a physical examination and order diagnostic studies such as X-ray, CT scan, MRI, and nerve conduction studies.
Conservative treatment options for elbow contracture can successfully treat most elbow
contractures of less than 6 months duration. These options will be based on your particular situation and may include the following:
If conservative treatment options fail to improve the elbow contracture despite the patient’s adherence to physical therapy, surgery may be recommended.
Capsular Release is a surgical procedure to release the contracture associated with elbow stiffness. This surgery may be performed through a large, open incision or arthroscopically through much smaller incisions. Arthroscopic Elbow Capsular Release is a minimally invasive surgery performed in a hospital operating room under general or regional anesthesia.
Your surgeon will discuss the options with you and decide which surgical technique will be used based on your situation.
After surgery your surgeon will give you instructions to follow depending on the type of repair performed and the surgeon’s preference.
Common post-operative care following elbow contracture release includes the following:
Arthroscopic Elbow Capsular Release is a safe procedure that rarely involves any major complications. Some possible complications may include infection and nerve damage.