Elbow Surgery Arthrolysis (release of contracture)

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Indications for operation

Stiffness of the elbow

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General Anaesthetic with an axillary block (Fully asleep with a local anaesthetic injection into the sarmpit will numb the nerves to the elbowfor post-operative pain relief)

Operation type

Arthroscopic or open depending on the cause of the stiffness. If the cause is post-traumatic it is sometimes not possible to introduce he arthroscope intothe joint and an opern procedure ahs to be undertaken.


4 ½ cm incisions will be made in the elbow. One at each side and 2 at the back


The front of the elbow joint will be inspected first and scar tissue within the joint debrided. The capsule (lining around the jopint) will be released to allow more movement. Any boney abnormalities will then be treated. This process will then be repeated at the back of the joint. If the procedure is performed open it is not possible to undertake such a thorough inspection but the steps are basically he same.

Wound Closure

Small butterfly paper stitches will be used to close the wounds.


Elastoplast dressings will be placed over the top of the paper stitches and an adhesive bandage over the top of this.

Immediate aftercare

A sling will be placed on the arm and it may feel numb for the rest of the day. You can go home when you feel comfortable and will be given instructions on what to do next. If the elbow is very stiif then it may be necessary to place the arm in a plaster cast for the first week to help stretch the muscles out.

Further instructions for Elbow arthrolysis rehabilitation