Your elbow is a joint which is made up of three bones held together by muscles, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage. It is both a hinge and pivot joint that allows you to freely bend and rotate your elbow. Loose bodies can happen in your elbow which is small pieces of bone or cartilage that have broken off and are lying or floating free within the joint. This can make it difficult to bend or rotate the joint.
A loose body in the elbow can cause pain and stiffness. Patients may experience a "catching" sensation or be aware of something moving around inside the joint. A loose body can create a feeling of the elbow being stuck, then it will suddenly "click-free."
Loose bodies in the elbow, which can be caused by osteoarthritis or other conditions, can range from an annoyance to a debilitating condition.
Other causes include:
Elbow fractures or dislocation
Stressful sports activities or manual work
In order to diagnose your elbow injury, your doctor will review your symptoms and perform a physical examination. Your range of motion will also be assessed. An x-ray or MRI may be ordered to visualize the joint and outline the problem.
Generally, a loose body in the elbow won’t cause much discomfort. If the symptoms are more severe and are affecting elbow movement, surgery may be suggested.
Your doctor may treat your elbow pain with a minimally invasive procedure called elbow arthroscopy. It reduces surgical trauma, making it easier for you to recover faster.
There are some risks associated with the procedure and complications that might occur. However, they can be treated and are unlikely to affect the final outcome. If you do choose to undergo surgery it may relieve your symptoms and make them less painful in most cases. But if you have osteoarthritis, pain may persist even following the surgery.