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Elbow Fractures

What is an Elbow Fracture?

Fractures of and around the elbow occur in the ulna and radius (bones in the forearm), radial head (end of radius just below the elbow), and in the lower or middle section of the humerus (bone which connects elbow to shoulder).

Elbow Fractures are caused usually from a direct blow or impact when arms are outstretched to break a fall, e.g. cycling.

Symptoms include pain, swelling, deformity of the arm, perhaps some numbness and inability to move or bend the arm.

An Elbow Fracture will be diagnosed following a clinical examination with a specialist. An imaging scan, such as an X-ray, will be required to verify the diagnosis.

Conservative treatment – some fractures may be treated without surgery and will need either splinting or to place the arm in a brace/sling. Conservative treatment is only recommended if the fracture has not caused the bone(s) to move out of alignment and will heal correctly from making the arm immobile. Recovery period can range between 4-6 weeks.

Surgery – Is necessary if both forearm bones have been fractured, the bones are out of alignment/unstable or have been forced through skin. Surgery involves realigning the fractured bones with either plates/screws/pins or radial head replacement. Recovery period depending on the fracture(s) can take up to 6 weeks with the arm immobile in a sling/brace. Physiotherapy will be needed once the fracture has healed and the arm can be manipulated.

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