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What are Loose Bodies in the Elbow?

The elbow is a complex joint with multiple bones, ligaments, tendons and other components. Elbow injuries and conditions can impact the structure, resulting in fragments of bone or cartilage breaking off within the joint. These loose bodies in the elbow can cause irritation, inflammation and dysfunction, requiring treatment. Jonathan L. Glashow, MD orthopedic surgery and sports injury center in Miami, FL, offers treatment for loose bodies within the elbow.

Symptoms of Loose Bodies in the Elbow

If there are fragments of bone or cartilage within the elbow joint, it can impact the bones, ligaments, tendons and other tissue. A small piece of bone could irritate a bursa or press on a nerve within the joint. Some of the possible symptoms you may experience if you have loose bodies in the elbow include:

  • Catching sensation when bending or moving the elbow
  • Joint is stuck in one position, then pops free
  • Feeling something moving around in the joint
  • Pain and stiffness in the elbow

Some people may not have any symptoms with a loose body in their elbow or mild symptoms that are not overly bothersome. Others may have severe pain and dysfunction – it depends on the location and size of the fragments in the joint.

Causes of Elbow Fragments

Injuries to the elbow can result in bone chips or cartilage to become loose in the joint. Disease can also result in loose bodies – osteoarthritis is a common cause of damaged cartilage that can break loose and irritate the components of the elbow.

Treatment for loose bodies in the elbow can range from non-surgical therapies for pain management and minimizing inflammation to surgical removal of the fragments. Most procedures for removing bone or cartilage fragments can be performed with arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgical method using tiny incisions and small instruments to perform the procedure.

If you have symptoms of fragments or loose bodies in your elbow, come see us at Jonathan L. Glashow, MD orthopedic surgery and sports injury center. Contact our office in Miami, FL, to schedule an elbow exam and consultation for treatment.

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