Arthroscopic Management of the Stiff Elbow

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Jay D. Keener, MD and Leesa M. Galatz, MD Elbow stiffness is a challenge to manage effectively. Elbow contractures commonly result from both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, causing limited motion. Recent technical advances in elbow arthroscopy have led to the development of minimally invasive procedures for the management of select cases of recalcitrant elbow stiffness. As with most arthroscopic procedures, a notable learning curve is associated with the safe, effective execution of these surgical techniques. Certain clinical scenarios require that special attention be paid to the ulnar nerve and the posterior bundle of the medial ulnar collateral ligament to improve motion safely. Arthroscopic capsular release of the elbow is effective for restoring a functional arc of motion in the short term in most patients with extrinsic contractures.

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