Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can affect any joint in the body, including the elbow joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in the elbow can be very uncomfortable, and it may affect daily tasks, such as reaching for objects and carrying bags. It can cause permanent damage to the elbow joint and even change its shape.
In this article, we take a close look at how arthritis can affect the elbow. We also cover treatment options, including exercise, surgery, and steroid injections.
When RA affects the elbow, it causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness in and around the joint. The swelling can lead to reduced mobility in the elbow joint.
The elbow joint connects the upper arm to the forearm. It is a complex joint comprising three bones and several smaller parts. The elbow joint affects the movement of the hand and forearm, so people rely on its mobility to carry out many everyday tasks.
In the early stages of RA, people may only feel pain when they lift objects or strain the elbow joint. Although movements that involve the elbow can be uncomfortable, there is usually little impact on the range of motion.
However, the pain often becomes worse over time. Some people will experience a persistent throbbing pain in the elbow, even when it is at rest. Others may only notice the pain at certain times of day, such as in the morning.
Over time, it is also possible for RA to cause permanent damage to the elbow joint. Chronic inflammation can damage the tissues in the joint that prevent the bones from rubbing against each other. This primarily affects the synovial tissue that lines the joint. People may also experience bone erosion.
In up to 20 percent of people with RA, small, firm bumps called nodules will also appear around the elbow.
|Read on: Rheumatoid arthritis: How does it affect the elbow?|