What are loose bodies in the elbow?
The elbow is a hinge and pivot joint that is formed by the intersection of three bones: the humerus (upper arm bone), the ulna (forearm bone on the pinky side), and the radius (forearm bone on the thumb side). The surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the elbow allow the arm to bend at the elbow, much like a door hinge, as well as twist and rotate the forearm. A slippery white connective tissue, known as articular cartilage, covers the ends of these bones and enables them to painlessly glide over one another during joint movement. Physical activities where substantial stress is placed on the elbow joint, such as weightlifting or heavy manual labor, can cause early degeneration of the articular cartilage. Frequently, small fragments of articular cartilage or bone can become detached and left to “float” in the intra-articular (joint) space. Elbow fractures or osteoarthritis can also generate loose bodies in the elbow. Dr. Riley J. Williams, orthopedic elbow specialist serving patients in Manhattan, New York City, and the surrounding New York boroughs, has the knowledge and understanding, as well as substantial experience, in treating patients who have experienced loose bodies in the elbow.