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Elbow Fractures

What are Elbow fractures?

The joint of the elbow is one of the most stable in the body, but due to its position in a high stress area on the arm, it is more prone to injury and fractures are not uncommon. By virtue of the elbow’s position as the joining place of three bones (the ulna, the radius, and the humerus), a fracture to the elbow can occur in any of these bones, depending on the manner in which the break occurs.


What causes Elbow fractures?

As with any bone, the elbow is fractured by trauma, and in the case of this particular joint, that trauma is most often a fall onto the outstretched arm (although direct trauma to the elbow and twisting injuries follow close behind). Fractures of the elbow are commonly accompanied by sprains, strains and twists, as well as dislocations.


What are symptoms of Elbow fractures?

As with most fractures, symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness and bruising around the injured area, as well as stiffness upon movement. Because of the nature of the joint, at the time of injury there is often an audible pop or crack, which is an indicator of fracture of joint instability.. If the fracture is really severe, then the bone may have visible deformities where they are misaligned or defroemd, or even penetrate the skin.


How to diagnose an Elbow fractures

If a fracture is suspected, the doctor will obtain a history and perform a physical exam to determine the severity and cause of the injury. Then, X-rays will be necessary in order to provide you and the doctor with an inside view of your arm, so to better see the fracture, and determine a course of treatment. It is important to get a clear view of the surface of the bones where they broke. In order to ensure that there is proper joint surface alignment, a CT scan may be necessary. To assess additional soft tissue injuries such as ligament tears an MRI will be ordered in some cases.


Treatment Options

Non-surgical treatment of  Elbow fractures

If there is little risk of the bones being moved out of place during healing,and the break is normally aligned, it is possible that simply a cast and/or a sling may suffice to hold the bones and allow them to knit together properly. It is important, however, that you engage a therapist and undergo a rigorous therapy regimen in order to restore and maintain the use of your elbow once fracture healing has occurred around 6 weeks..

Surgical treatment of elbow fractures

Surgery is most often necessary when the bone breaks into the joint surface or the fracture is unstable, and do not sit well together. In these cases, it may be necessary to realign the bones and hold them together in such a way that they repair themselves. Pins are a common method of surgically holding the bones in place, especially in the case of a fracture to the tip of the elbow, or olecranon. In other areas such as the humerus, plates and screws may be needed. In intra-articular fractures of the end of the humerus or the head of the radius a headless screw is commonly used. Surgery is most uncommon among children, because of the resilient nature of their bones, and they develop very little stiffness as the result of this type of injury.


How can Dr. Knight help you with Elbow fractures?

As with any fracture, a break to the elbow can be a traumatic and debilitating injury, but when treated by the skilled hands of an experienced surgeon like Dr. Knight, it is possible to restore your broken elbow to full function.


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