Total Elbow Replacement - I have had this done. Anyone else?

Posted , 57 users are following.

In June 2014 I had my left elbow replaced.  At the present time this is 9 weeks ago. I have had good progress but concerned about doing anything that will make it come loose.

Has anyone else had the same operation and how has it been and has there been any problem with the joint coming loose? 

1 like, 264 replies

264 Replies

  • Posted

    Not had this done and hope I never have to but I do suffer pain in my elbow and have had cortizone injections to date.  I just wanted to say that I hope things continue well with your recovery, also I hope that someone answers your post for you.  All the best.


  • Posted

    Greetings from Dallas Texas USA. In May 2013  I had my right elbow replaced due to a rather nasty fall in my home. This was the second fracture of this elbow. Due to the many fragments in the arthritic elbow the decision to replace was the only option. the surgery took over 4 hours due to issues removing a previously installed screw. After waking in the most severe pain ever experienced by me the recovery began. After 15 months my pain is just now starting to ease.there is only 50% feeling in my little finger, but is returning rather slowly. My elbow pops and cracks often when moving. Hopefully yours will do better. By the way I am a very active 59 year old man. The surgery has certainly changed the way I do everything, but overall the out come has been OK. Just don't rush your healing Be very patient and careful not to fall. I have to take Napricin every day to control pain. Is your elbow causing you any grief? You are the first person I've dealt with that has had a replacement. Rather unusual here in the US, with less that 2000 done per year. Not sure if my surgeon was totally competent or not.  Without going for a second opinion I would never know.
    • Posted

      Hope your elbow slowly heals over time 

      I also had this surgury just couple weeks ago oct 23rd 2014 

      Pain is not bad now mostly aches when trying to exersize it . Can't drive for 6 weeks driving me crazy.

      My surgeon was very good after surgury he did a procedure called a nerve bypass so my pain would be lessened , was still painful but not bad after 3 or 4 days.

      Wish u all the best.

    • Posted

      Hello - your experience does sound quite different from mine. I am now 5 months on and I have all the feeling in my hand and pretty well full movement of my arm and wrist and no pain, popping or clicking. I am terrified of falling over! And I do struggle with doors as I stay in a lot of hotels with my job. Suitcase and brief case/handbag - trying to open doors - which does get me down. It is unusual over here in the UK as well, and i spoke with 8 or 9 consultants before finding one I thought could give me he best outcome.

      I can feel my arm is different though in so far as sometimes it feels like I have a cuff on my elbow, when I dont and it does feel very slightly heavier than my other arm - not much, but a bit. How is your now?         

  • Posted

    Hi my name is Maggie

    I just had total elbow replacement 

    Oct. 23rd 2014

    So far so good home recovering no pain 

    Just starting to try and exercise,very stiff but 

    Can move my arm. Hoping my movement improves with time. Your the first person I 

    Know that has also had this surgury 

    I have RA. That's why I had the surgury 

    My elbow was locked. Was very frightened to

    Have this surgury done. Could use my arm 

    But couldn't bend or straighten it hoping for

    Good results but like u very worried about 

    What not to do . Hope your recovery improves wish u well . Please let me know how your doing

    All The Best ...Maggie

    • Posted

      I am considering the same operation I have Ra how are you recovering ,if you could make the decision again would you have it done again
    • Posted

      Hi Maggie - I hope the recovery is still going well. My elbow is really very good. I have no pain and I have most movement. I do struggle with doors though and I do worry about damaging it.I found the recovery in the first few weeks quite amazing and then it slowed down.

      It is quite unusual and I do find people just look very suprised when I tell them what I have - but I am very happy with it.

      I hope yours is going as well.


  • Posted

    I am considering having operation as I have RA have you found it beneficial an dwould given the option again have it done
    • Posted


      I had no real choice but to have this dome as I samashed my elbow and it could not be re-built. I am very happy with it as it is fully functional and no pain. However, if you do have a fully functioning elbow you need to consider carefully the fact that you will not be able to pick anything up any heavier than a cup of tea with that arm, ever.

      It is more of an inconvenience than anything else, but sometimes I really could do with being able to carry heavier stuff. If however you have a lot of problems with your elbow then it is a good solution but make sure you find yourself an experienced surgeon in elbow replacement, not just an elbow specialist.

      let me know if you decided to proceed.

  • Posted

    I had my elbow crushed in 1985 and im sick of not beinga ble to scratch my noce with my left hand!! My arm still works but with no bending - its fixed. There is no pain. Is it worth the trouble of getting a replacement? Will my wasted muscles come back after such a long time?
    • Posted

      If you cant live with it any longer than you have no choice. I had a replacement 1 1/2 years ago and my surgery did not go as well as planned. Due to a previously installed screw in the ulna the surgery took twice as long as scheduled. I still have very reduced feeling in two fingers. My surgeon limited my weight capacity to 40 lbs. I only occasionally lift any where near that because of pain in elbow.It is extremely painful when I get tired at night.I still work on vehicles, hunt and fish and play outdoors as much as a 60 year old man can.The pain is way beyond OTC pain killers. I still sleep with a brace on it to limit motion.

      I do not wish my experience with it on anybody.My experience seems to be the odd one.You HAVE to find a surgeon experienced in this surgery. I suspect my surgery was the surgeons first. I am going to follow up with another doctor soon and have my surgical records in hand. Best of luck to you.

  • Posted

    Hi, i had this procedure done about 11 years ago.  Had a bad car accident and after 12 surgeries trying to repair the elbow they finally opted for a replacement.  I have had chronic pain in it and you have to be careful with it.  I have had trouble with the tricep and ripped it off like 3 times.  There is limitations with the elbow but you will learn how to adapt to it, the only real problem i had with it is wearing down of the bushing and had to replace it, other then that it was worth doing it instead of having an arm frozen straight and not able to use it,
  • Posted

    Hi there! My name is Jayne. I'm a 57 yr old female who suffers with severe RA. I was diagnosed almost 20 years ago. At the time I was as fit as a fiddle, 8 stones soaking wet, weight training 5 times a week and training to run the Marathon. I had a major throat infection and lost even more weight. When the infection cleared I began to get aches and pains, swollen and hot joints and just generally felt unwell. I was back and forth to the doctors, who eventually blood tested me. The result came back with RA as the diagnosis. I was sent to a hospital here in the UK that specialises in all forms of Arthritis and Rheumatism. My arthritis was so severe and came on so suddenly they asked me if I'd had been in a car accident, or suffered any kind of trauma. They thought the onset was so violent that there was something that must have caused it. Eventually they decided that it was Reactive Arthritis, and that it might burn itself out ; sadly that's not happened. Within a year I needed to have my knees replaced - but they made me wait 7 years, saying I was far too young. During one knee replacement op they paralysed my lungs and needed to resuscitate me! But both knees were replaced...and to date are very successful! Next it was my they were replaced (along with an operation on both hands to alleviate Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) - that was 2008 and 2009. Now we get to the elbow bit!!! My first elbow replacement was the left one in 2010. 3 weeks after the op, the bones above the replacement joint fractured. As the replacement joint was so new, the surgeons were loathe to re-open the wound for fear of I lived with a broken arm for over a year. My right elbow was replaced in 2012. Sadly, some infection set in. They couldn't identify the infection. The lab couldn't grow a culture, so it was treated with general high dose antibiotics. As soon as I stopped the antibiotics, the infection took hold again and raged. If there is a replacement joint in the area of the infection...that joint has to be removed. So it was done. Now I have a broken left arm, and a right arm with no joint....difficult to say the least! Six months later, a spacer was put into my right arm to give it some sense of use. After a while, the spacer rocked out of its position, trapping my nerves, causing terrible pain all down my forearm. So that had to be removed. Whilst all this was happening, it was decided to pin the fracture in my left arm!! Within 10 days, the plates fell off, and the infection set in there too! So out came that joint!! Now I have both arms useless!! Don't get me wrong... Its not as bad as it sounds.. I MADE myself cope (I live alone, with no help at all!) During 2014 I had 8 operations...on one arm or the other. I spent 12 months on IV antibiotics through a PICC line, giving myself the injections daily. My left arm was finally sorted in December last year... And last month, my Right elbow was replaced again. That should have been it.. Whoopee! I'd finally had the last op, and I was now officially bionic! Mmmm celebrated too soon perhaps? Went for a check up today, and turns out that I may need yet another op on my left arm - to release the trapped ulnar nerve which is deadening the fingers of my left hand..... Watch this space! But through everything I've been through...including losing my Mum,Dad and boyfriend during all this.... I have NEVER EVER given up. I stay as cheerful as I can, I get up, put my face on, and face the world as best as I can. I don't want sympathy or pity from anyone, I get by with as little help as possible. No one wants to know a misery guts. If I feel in pain (constant, but my pain threshold is massive now) I allow myself a things or two, shake myself and get on with it. Now my ankles are starting to show signs of failure, so I expect that will be the next move! I can only say to anyone who takes the time to read this... You are the master of your own feelings, don't let them drag you down. There is ALWAYS someone worse off than you. Your glass is half full, not half empty. Xxx
    • Posted

      Yikes!! This has been a nightmare for you! I am glad your attitude sounds good, how do you cope? I live alone as well and find myself doing more than I should too easily because there isn't help here for me. I hope that there will be a better long-term solution for you! I am just starting on my post-op journey from a elbow replacement. SO far so good! God bless you!

    • Posted

      Wow! I had a nasty ride down the basement stairs on my 130lb Doberman. I crashed at the bottom into the concrete wall and floor. Broke and dislocated my shoulder, and shattered my elbow. I have had 6 surgeries to repair and heal. It has been very cumbersome. My shoulder healed well, but by the time I was having therapy on my elbow, where I had had the compound fracture, the tiny hole broke open. It continued to drain clear for about2 months, and refused to close. My doctor was at a loss. Diabetes played a role in my healing, he sent me to a wound care specialist. I started using the ointment she gave me, and in 3 days I broke out in a full blown infection. I immediately went into surgery and all pins and plates in my elbow were removed. The new x t day, a second surgery to clean out all of the infection a second time. After testing, infectious disease Dr found it to be an anaerobic infection. It wouldn't grow with oxygen. I ended up with the picline for6 weeks. And on the iv antibiotics at home. I am still awaiting the final decision as to whether or not they are going to do an elbow replacement,(which is what I feel they are leaning towards),or try to save what I have left.I have been walking around with a broken arm since May. A lot of pain and tired of being broken. But I keep going, just as you said, someone has it worse than I do, my heart goes out to you, stay strong!

    • Posted

      Oh boy, and I thought my elbow injury was bad. Thank God no infection. I hope you heal and your infection is on its way to being 100% gone.
    • Posted

      Hai jayne, I have no words to tell u what powerful soul you are. I am also with RA but my right elbow is the only victim till now. And I am depressed and worried to have a replacement. But your words are so strong and lively that made me think over the choice of living happily without giving space for negative thoughts and to be happy with watever I have. Thankyu so much for ur inspiration. U will be there in my prayers.
    • Posted

      Hi Jayne - I know you wrote this post over 2 years ago but I just wanted to check in and see if you have any support yet, I too have RA and I know how lonely that can be but I do get support from my parents, my siblings could care less and my friends just don’t understand, but at least I have Mum and Dad. I do have a fantastic medical team that I’m so grateful to have.

      i also have servere RA (two knee replacements) with an elbow replacement in May this year. Like you my glass is always half full and I still smile and laugh but do hope that you are not doing this on your own. 

      Just writing this to check in and ask, how are you and are you doing okay?

    • Posted

      Hi Jeannie,

      I have just been put on IV antibiotics for 6 weeks from elbow hardware infection. My left elbow still has hardware as fracture is not healed being 3.5 weeks post ORIF. Is your infection all cleared now? I'm nervous as DR said the infection sometimes reappears later sad.


    • Posted

      How do you stay positive through all this? How are you doing now? I am facing more operations  on my replaced elbow and something else on the other arm, effectively leaving me with two only for light use arms! I am most worried, how can I take care of myself through all of this?
    • Posted

      wow jayne what a wonderful positive person you must be what an attitute all the best to you and god bless

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