Supporting the elbow joint are three important ligaments - the ulnar collateral ligament, radial collateral ligament, and annular ligament. These ligaments provide the joint with stability and strength.
Moreover, the elbow joint is the attachment point for the common flexor and extensor tendons, which work together with associated muscle groups to help rotate the forearm and move the wrist and hand.
Injuries that can affect the elbow joint include overuse injuries such as tennis elbow and golfer's elbow, which can develop due to repetitive activities or sports. Additionally, the ligaments around the elbow joint may become sprained or ruptured due to trauma or accidents caused by repetitive stress or direct injury.
The common symptoms of injury to the elbow joint and its surrounding structures include swelling and pain, which may extend from the elbow to the forearm and palm and be aggravated by movements of the wrist. Sometimes instability of the joint may also be seen
When a patient experiences a ligament rupture, their doctor may recommend ligament reconstruction. The procedure involves making an incision over the elbow and carefully moving aside muscles, tendons, and nerves. The surgeon then harvests a donor tendon from the forearm or below the knee. Next, the surgeon drills holes into the bones surrounding the elbow joint in the upper arm and forearm and inserts the donor tendon in a pattern similar to that of the original ligament. The tendon is secured to the bone surfaces with special sutures, and the incision is closed with sutures and covered with sterile dressings. A splint is applied to support the elbow for a few weeks, and regular follow-up appointments and a rehabilitation program are recommended for a better and quicker recovery.
Complications of elbow ligament and tendon repair surgeries can include infection, injury to adjacent nerves and blood vessels, and loss of strength or flexibility in the elbow joint.
To ensure the success of the surgery, a post-operative rehabilitation program is crucial. This may include the use of a removable splint immediately after surgery, as well as ice therapy, electrical stimulation, and massage to reduce pain, swelling, or muscle spasm. Isometric exercises, strengthening exercises, and range of motion exercises may also be beneficial for long-term rehabilitation.