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What are Elbow Fractures?

Elbow fractures may occur from trauma, resulting from various reasons: a fall on an outstretched arm, a direct blow to the elbow or an abnormal twist to the joint beyond its functional limit. 

What are the Types of Elbow Fractures?

The types of elbow fractures include:

  • Radial head and neck fractures:Fractures in the head portion of the radius bone are referred to as radial head and neck fractures. 
  • Olecranon fractures: These are the most common elbow fractures, occurring at the bony prominence of the ulna.
  • Distal humerus fractures: These fractures are common in children and the elderly. Nerves and arteries in the joint may sometimes be injured in these fractures. 

Symptoms of Elbow Fractures

The symptoms of an elbow fracture may include pain, bruising, stiffness, swelling in and around the elbow, popping or cracking sound, numbness or weakness in the arm, wrist, and hand, and deformity of the elbow bones.

Diagnosis of Elbow Fractures 

To diagnose an elbow fracture, your doctor will review your history, perform a thorough physical examination and order X-rays of the joint. In some cases, a CT scan may be needed to view the details of the joint surface. 

Treatment Options for Elbow Fractures

The aim of treatment is to maximize early motion and reduce the risk of stiffness. Non-surgical treatment options include pain medication, ice application, the use of a splint or a sling to immobilize the elbow during the healing process, and physical therapy. 

Surgery is indicated in displaced and open fractures to realign the bones and stabilize the joint with screws, plates, pins and wires. Strengthening exercises are recommended to improve the range of motion.