WHAT IS SYNOVITIS?
There are several causes of elbow pain and these can be divided into different categories, including elbow instability, nerve entrapment, inflammation of the tissue around the joint and snapping of the elbow joint (the impinged tissue clicks when the elbow is flexed or extended).
The most common cause of elbow pain is known as "tennis elbow", if the pain is on the outside of the elbow, and "golfer's elbow" when the pain is on the inside.
Then there is synovitis, which is inflammation of the synovial membrane that lines any limb joints with cavities. This condition is equally painful when the joint is moved and results in swelling because fluid collects in the cavity.
Correct diagnosis requires a complete medical history and examination. You need a series of tests based on assumptions, such as an electro-diagnosis, a CT scan or even an MRI to confirm and detect any pathologic features. Once the diagnosis is made, a suitable medical procedure will be recommended to ensure successful treatment.
Treatment thus differs, although most procedures will involve a multidisciplinary approach.
This includes oral medication or specific injections, physical therapy and educating patients about the disease. In some cases surgery may be required, such as with tennis elbow that still doesn't respond to medication after several months.
Arthroscopy surgery assists physicians by expanding the pathogenesis of the elbow, making it easier to examine the injury and locate other areas that might be affected and can't be detected by other methods.
This is minimal invasive surgery, with the incision just five millimetres and minimal injury to the surrounding tissue. Faster recovery can be expected than with open surgery.
Dr Cholawish Chanlalit works in the Spine & Joint Centre at Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital.