The aim is to give the patient pain-free, functional and stable elbow. This means 30-130 degrees flexion and 100 degrees of rotation.
Physiotherapy involves active motion exercises. Ideally this should be with a physiotherapist who has an interest in upper limb rehabilitation. Close consultation with your surgeon is recommended. Passive stretch (someone else pushing or pulling on your elbow) should be avoided in most cases.
Splinting may have a role in some cases under the direction of your surgeon but in most cases should be avoided.
Surgery is indicated when patients are no longer improving in their original posttraumatic rehabilitation program. At least 6 to 9 months should be allowed for the inflammatory phase of soft tissue healing to resolve.
This may be performed via keyhole (arthroscopy) or open surgery. The decision depends on the surgeon’s experience and the type of stiffness.
Arthroscopic release is ideal for stiffness due to arthritis and when there has been no previous surgery. However, if there has been a previous internal fixation and there are extrinsic causes for the stiffness open surgery is required.
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