The cause of a stiff elbow is either at the bony level or the collagen capsule/ligament level or both.
Common Causes of Stiff Elbow
- Major trauma secondary to a fracture or fracture-dislocation
- Repetitive microtrauma
When elbow trauma is associated with a close head injury, a buildup of abnormal bone can develop in locations where it is not normally found. This is called heterotopic ossification.
If the bone develops in muscle, it is called myositis ossificans. When bone develops in the elbow, it can bind the humerus to the radius or ulna. This affects flexion, extension and forearm rotation. To make the diagnosis, a physical exam and plain x-rays are all that is required prior to proceeding with surgery.