Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. The symptom common in all bone diseases, arthritis and osteoarthritis is a chronic condition that causes the disintegration of the bone cartilage this is a tough, flexible tissue that is attached to the two ends of the bones where they meet to form a joint. When the bone disintegrates the cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in that joint. Loose fragments inside the joint can hasten the damage. Very rarely osteoarthritis affects the elbow as it is more recurrent in weight bearing joints like knees and hip. Elbow osteoarthritis is usually due to overuse of the joint or an injury. Any type of trauma to the elbow can also worsen the damage to the cartilage of the joint and change the way the elbow joint works, this can lead to the development of arthritis in the injured joint.
Three bones combine to form the elbow joint, the humerus bone in the upper arm and ulna, radius bones in the forearm. The ulna and radius meet at the elbow to form a type of hinge joint. The elbow is one of the joints that are least affected by osteoarthritis as it mostly affects the weight bearing joints.
Arthritis of the elbow can generate pain when there is any movement in the joint like bending or straightening of the elbow. There are different types of pain that describes what a patient goes through due to this disease, a grating like sensation in the joint because of cartilage loss, jamming of the elbow joint because of bone fragments and loose cartilage, swelling in the elbow as the disease advances, a current or tingling like sensation in the elbow due to the pressure on the ulnar nerve because of the joint swelling. The usual cause for elbow arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis but osteoarthritis and any other major injury can also cause elbow osteoarthritis. As the disease advances patients of osteoarthritis of the elbow may observe a lack of sensation in the ring finger and small finger. This could be because of the swelling in the elbow or limited movement in the joint.
Elbow osteoarthritis that did not originate due to any previous injury or trauma is more common in men than in women. Patients affected by elbow osteoarthritis are mostly over 50 years. It is even possible to get the disease at an early age. Work and other activities can lead to osteoarthritis of the elbow, if the person places more demand on the joint than it can bear like in professional baseball when pitchers place extremely high demands on their throwing skills which can cause severe damage in the ligaments.