Arthrolysis is an operation to treat elbow stiffness. Severe stiffness, or arthritis, requires an ‘open’ or conventional operation involving an incision, usually over the tip of the elbow. In this type of surgery bony deformity due to injury or arthritis can be treated. These operations are performed under a general anaesthetic with a local anaesthetic block. Almost all patients will need to stay one or more nights in hospital.
Risks of this type of surgery include infection and problems with wound healing. In most cases immediate movement is possible and use of the arm for daily tasks such as dressing, writing and eating should be possible within a couple of days. Driving is also usually possible within 3-4 weeks. Physiotherapy is almost always required and it may be necessary to wear an elbow brace for certain periods of the day.