Elbow Replacement Surgery

Elbow Replacement Surgery

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A severely damaged elbow joint that causes significant pain, disability, and limited movement may be relieved through elbow replacement surgery. Our orthopaedic surgeons offer you the best approach to relieve your elbow pain. We receive referrals from around the country because of the many procedures we perform, including first-time and corrective elbow replacement.

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About Elbow Replacement

Arthritis, Fracture May Lead to Need for Elbow Replacement
Elbow pain and stiffness often come from arthritis, in which the cartilage of the joint is damaged. A serious fracture of one or more bones in your elbow can also lead to pain and limited movement. Some fractures are difficult to repair and may not heal properly, which can also lead to arthritis. Other forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can lead to joint destruction requiring elbow replacement.

What to Expect
Elbow replacement surgery preserves movement and limited function in the elbow joint. However, it does not return your elbow to its original strength and mobility, and people have ongoing limitations on how much they can lift with the affected arm. For that reason, doctors may not recommend it for younger, more active people.

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Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.


Elbow replacement can relieve your joint pain and increase your flexibility. Your doctor will explain the surgical process and what to expect during recovery.

Total Elbow Replacement

Replaces the damaged parts of two elbow bones with artificial components. After removing the damaged ends of the upper arm bone (humerus) and the connecting forearm bone (ulna), the elbow surgeon inserts metallic stems into these bones. The stems are cemented in place and then connected with a hinge that allows the elbow to move.

Revision Elbow Replacement Surgery

Elbow replacements that have become worn or loose may need to be replaced. If this is the case, the artificial joint will be removed and replaced with a new artificial elbow joint. We routinely perform revisions and corrections of failed elbow replacement surgeries.

Physical Therapy

Rehabilitation is key to getting the best result from elbow replacement. Duke physical therapists and occupational therapists are trained to provide specific care after elbow surgery. You will learn graduated range-of-motion exercises as you recover, to help you avoid stiffness, maintain range of motion, and gain strength. While elbow replacement can return you to cooking, dressing, and other daily activities, you’ll need to avoid heavy lifting, contact sports, and activities that put you at risk for falling.

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Leaders in Elbow Replacement

Experience and Innovation
The experience level of the team is one of the most important predictors of success with elbow replacement. Duke’s orthopaedic surgeons perform many elbow replacement surgeries each year. A Duke doctor co-developed the first successful modern artificial elbow joint, which set the standard for elbow replacement. We continue to study patients' outcomes following surgery to ensure they experience a better quality of life.

A Team of Professionals
Our elbow surgeons, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, anesthesiologists, and radiologists combine their skills and expertise to give you the best care when you have elbow replacement surgery.

Duke University Hospital is nationally ranked in 10 adult specialties
Best Orthopaedic Hospital in North Carolina
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital’s nationally ranked orthopaedics program was named best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.
Reviewed: 09/21/2018