Can an elbow replacement restore full function to the joint?

Written by: Mr David Thyagarajan
Edited by: Conor Lynch

This article centres on elbow replacement surgery and arthritis, as distinguished consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Dr David Thyagarajan, describes how elbow replacement surgery is performed, and when it is suggested to patients with arthritis.

When is elbow replacement surgery indicated in cases of arthritis?

Elbow replacement surgery can sometimes be used as an effective treatment option for patients with arthritis. It is typically required when elbow pain becomes severe and debilitating. It also may be necessary if other non-surgical treatments measures have been tried and have not worked.


What does elbow replacement surgery entail?

Elbow replacement surgery is, in most cases, performed under general anaesthesia. The procedure itself involves removing the arthritis bone and replacing it with what is known as a metal prosthesis. This prosthesis links the upper arm to the forearm bones.


Is elbow joint replacement painful? What should patients expect from the recovery period?

Patients may experience mild pain after surgery. Regional nerve blocks can be given during surgery to help with pain control in the first 24 hours. During the initial recovery period, strong painkillers will be required for a few days. 


Can an elbow replacement restore full function to the joint?

An elbow replacement will provide a patient with a decent amount of pain relief. The range of movement achieved after replacement, though, is quite variable from patient to patient. The range of movement will depend on the pre-existing stiffness and soft tissue function of the patient.


Dr David Thyagarajan is a highly distinguished consultant orthopaedic surgeon who specialises in elbow surgery. If you are considering undergoing elbow surgery or thinking about seeking treatment for any elbow-related concern you may have, you can book an appointment with him today via his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr David Thyagarajan
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr David Thyagarajan is a highly respected consultant orthopaedic surgeon based in Sheffield who specialises in shoulder and elbow surgery. He is renowned for his expertise in shoulder and elbow pain, shoulder injection and shoulder arthroscopy as well as elbow and shoulder joint replacement, including both primary and secondary revision surgery.

After qualifying in medicine in 1994, Mr Thyagarajan undertook his higher surgical training in trauma and orthopaedic surgery in Bristol and he gained a specialist fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons within the trauma and orthopaedics section. He was awarded a highly sought-after advanced shoulder and elbow fellowship at Nottingham Shoulder and Elbow Unit where he gained invaluable experience in treating a high volume of complex cases. Additionally, Mr Thyagarajan travelled to centres for excellence in shoulder and elbow surgery in Houston and San Antonio, Texas, USA to acquire detailed knowledge and expert skill in performing innovative surgical techniques from renowned leaders in the field of orthopaedics.

With his wide-ranging expertise in shoulder and elbow surgery, Mr Thyagarajan’s areas of interest include sports injuries, instability, degenerative disease and related joint replacement, including highly complex cases. He sees private patients at the Circle Health Group Thornbury Hospital in Sheffield.

In addition to his clinical responsibilities, Mr Thyagarajan remains actively involved in research in his key areas of interest and is a leading name in the field of trauma and orthopaedics. He has published numerous academic papers which appear in esteemed peer-reviewed journals and also acts as a reviewer for The Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. He frequently speaks at national and international conferences and has shared his research at key meetings of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the British Shoulder and Elbow Society. Mr Thyagarajan was also an invited speaker at the 2016 International Congress of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery in South Korea, sharing his expertise in arthritis and arthroplasty symposium sessions.

Mr Thyagarajan is also an esteemed educator and is a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield. He regularly teaches students and surgical trainees in orthopaedics and also delivers key training for fellow medical professionals. Additionally, he is a faculty member on shoulder and elbow advanced surgical techniques courses and supervises specialist trainees in orthopaedics and shoulder and elbow fellows within his role at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust. He is a member of a number of prominent professional bodies, including the British Orthopaedic Association, British Shoulder and Elbow Society and the European Society of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery.

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