Osteoarthritis of the elbow occurs when the cartilage surface of the elbow is damaged or becomes worn out. This often happens because of previous injuries, such as elbow dislocation or fracture. It could also be the result of degeneration of the joint cartilage from aging. Osteoarthritis usually affects weight-bearing joints, such as the hips or knees. The elbow is one of the least affected joints, because of it's well-matched joints surfaces and, also, because of it's strong stabilizing ligaments. As a result, the elbow joint can tolerate large forces across it without becoming unstable.
Symptoms of arthritis are typically pain and loss of range of motion, although they may not occur at the same time. Patients usually report a "locking" or "grating" sensation in the below. The "grating" is due to loss of the normal smooth joint surface, while the "locking" is caused by loose pieces of cartilage or bone that dislodged from the joint and became trapped between the moving joint surfaces, which blocks motion.