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The elbow joint relies on the smooth movement of bones, ligaments, muscles and tendons for the best performance. When loose bodies are in the elbow, usually small pieces of bone or cartilage, it can irritate and aggravate the soft tissues, resulting in pain or dysfunction. At DOCS Health, we offer diagnosis and treatment of loose bodies in the elbow at our state-of-the-art medical center in Los Angeles.

What Causes Loose Bodies in the Elbow?

The majority of people with fragments of bone or cartilage in the elbow are athletes. Young athletes can sustain elbow injuries during their growing years from tendons or ligaments pulling against the bones in the elbow. Small pieces of bone or cartilage can be separated from the bones or growth plates from excessive throwing or stress. Elbow dislocations or fractures can also result in loose bodies, both in sports and other impact injuries. In older patients, loose bodies can be caused by degenerative diseases like arthritis.

Symptoms of Loose Fragments in the Elbow

The fragments of bone or cartilage in the elbow could hinder movement. Like stones or sand, they irritate the soft tissues when the elbow bends or straightens. Symptoms of loose bodies in the elbow include:

  • Catching or locking when bending/straightening elbow
  • Pain during elbow movement
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness

While symptoms can be alleviated with anti-inflammatory or pain medications, the best solution is removal of the fragments. Arthroscopy can be used to retrieve small fragments of bone or cartilage causing irritation to the elbow for pain relief.

If you have elbow pain and you believe it could be caused by loose bodies in the joint, come see us at DOCS Health. We offer advanced and minimally-invasive options for the treatment of loose bodies in the elbow. Contact our orthopedic clinic in Los Angeles to schedule your appointment.