The Types of Fractures that Occur in the Elbow

A fracture is a break in the one as a result of an accident, fall or sports injury. How the break is treated depends on the types of elbow fractures. The first step in treating any fracture located in the elbow is to identify the type of break and the extent of the injury.

What is an Elbow Fracture?

The elbow is a hinge joint that allows a person to move their forearm. The joint goes from the elbow to the wrist. For example, the hinge joint allows a person to rotate their palm and move their arm back and forth. The elbow also connects a person’s upper arm to their radius and ulna. A break can occur in one or more areas of the hinge joint or connection to the elbow.

Types of Breaks in the Elbow

A fracture can be closed or open. A closed break refers to a broken bone that stays under the skin. An open fracture refers to a fragment of bone breaking through the skin. The fracture can also be displaced. A displaced fracture is a break that occurs in more than two places. A nondisplaced fracture only occurs in one part of the bone and doesn’t separate. This means bone fragments remain where the bone broke.

An olecranon fracture occurs in the elbow. The olecranon is located in the ulna. This is one of two bones in a person’s forearm. Symptoms of this break include swelling, sharp pain and an inability to move the elbow. A distal humerus fracture is located in the shoulder area. In fact, it’s the rounded bottom part of the bone that joins a person’s elbow to their shoulder. When a person breaks this bone, they may experience symptoms such as tenderness, intense pain and inability to extend their elbow. The radial head is located in the forearm area. It is part of the radius bone and connects the elbow joint and humerus bone together. A radial head fracture typically occurs when a person place their hand out to stop their fall. Thus, the radius bone breaks because of the force. This trauma can also cause a dislocation of the elbow. The main symptom of a radial head fracture is pain. However, a person may lose the ability to extend their elbow or rotate their forearm. They may notice swelling too.

Seeking Help for an Elbow Fracture

Treatment for an elbow fracture depends on the extent of the injury. Broken bones that are open or unstable tend to require surgery. Surgery is needed to stabilize the bone and remove bits of broken bone. Non-surgical treatment includes wearing a splint, sling or cast.

This is to keep the elbow in a stable position until it heals. Rehabilitation may also be prescribed to increase the range of motion and decrease the risk of elbow stiffness. Therapy may include exercises and wearing splints that stretch the joints connected to the elbow.

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