Medically reviewed by board-certified orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Nic Gay, MD and Dr. Kerisimasi Reynolds, MD
What are Loose Bodies in the Elbow?
The elbow is capable of a significant degree of bending and straightening, which is referred to as “flexion and extension” in orthopedic medicine. Full forearm rotation is also controlled by the elbow joint.
There are three bones that join to form the elbow joint: the humerus (upper arm), the ulna (forearm running down the pinky finger side) and the radius (forearm running down the thumb side). On the surface of these joining bones, there is articular cartilage. This cartilage is smooth and provides protection and absorption of forces impacting on the elbow joint.
The remaining surfaces of the elbow joint on the inside are covered with a synovial membrane. This tissue is smooth and provides lubrication to limit friction. Without lubrication, the surfaces of the elbow would suffer damage as they rub against each other.
The elbow is supported by muscles, ligaments and tendons, and is defined as a hinge and pivot joint. These combined mechanisms allow you to bend your elbow, as well as rotate the lower arm. Due to the complexity of the elbow, injury or illness can result in pieces of bone or cartilage breaking off within the joint. The result is elbow pain, discomfort and the potential for limited movement when fragments jam up the mechanisms of the joint.
Symptoms of Loose Bodies in the Elbow Joint
You may experience pain and stiffness if there are loose bodies in the elbow joint. Patients often describe a “catching” sensation, which occurs when moving the joint. Locking of the elbow joint can occur if loose bodies are trapped in moving parts. These loose bodies are a common result of osteoarthritis, so it is important to consult with an orthopedic surgeon if you are experiencing adverse symptoms.
Silicon Valley Orthopaedics specializes in the treatment of conditions or injuries that cause loose bodies in the elbow. Reach out to our practice today if you are experiencing pain, catching or locking of the elbow.