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Elbow Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It starts with the loss of cartilage, which is a thin protective layer that covers bones in a joint. In response the body can grow bony spurs within the joint and there can be an increase of fluid in the joint space. This can happen without you feeling any symptoms. But it can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in a joint. Osteoarthritis is not very common in the elbow unless you’ve injured it in the past e.g. a previously broken bone. The following types of arthritis can also affect the elbow:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune condition that can cause pain and swelling in joints. Joints can be red, hot, stiff and tender to touch. Autoimmune conditions are caused when your immune system, which normally protects you from illness and infection, gets confused and mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy tissue.
  • Psoriatic arthritis – an autoimmune condition associated with the skin condition psoriasis, that causes patches of red, raised skin with white or silvery flakes. It can cause pain and swelling in and around joints.
  • Gout - a type of arthritis that causes pain and swelling in joints. It’s caused by a build-up of crystals of the waste product urate in the joints. Affected joints can be very painful, and the skin can sometimes be red and shiny.

When to seek advice

If you have severe pain affecting your sleep and daily activities, if you have had a serious injury or you have symptoms that have not improved with self-management, you should contact your GP practice. If you have a red, hot swollen joint please ring 111