Elbow Fractures - Genesis Orthopedics & Sports MedicineGenesis Orthopedics & Sports Medicine

Elbow Fractures

Diagnosis:

Fractures can occur in numerous parts of the elbow including the olecranon, radial head, distal humerus and supracondylar. Typical symptoms of an elbow fracture include sudden intense pain, loss of mobility, swelling, numbness, bruising and sensitivity to touch. The following areas of the elbow can be fractured and are treated by Genesis Orthopedics & Sport Medicine:

Distal Humerus: The distal humerus is the upper part of the humerus that forms the top part of the elbow joint. Fractures occurring in the distal humerus are uncommon, yet are especially debilitating to those they affect. When a fracture does occur as a result of a direct blow or fall on the outstretched arm with the elbow in a locked position, mobility of the elbow ceases almost completely.

Olecranon: The olecranon, also referred to as the funny bone, is the bony bump located at the end of the ulna, or forearm bone.  The close proximity of the olecranon to the skin leaves it particularly vulnerable to injury. Fractures can occur from either falling directly on the elbow, or from the triceps muscles pulling a portion of the olecranon in the opposite direction. Stress fractures are also common injuries to the olecranon.

Radial Head: The radial head is the bone that enables for elbow rotation allowing the arm to rotate into the palm up position (supination) and the palm down position (pronation).  Fractures of the radial head occur as a result of a fall on the straight outstretched arm.

Supracondylar: Supracondylar fractures primarily occur in children, with 90% of cases occurring in children under the age of 10. These fractures occur from falling on a hyper-extended elbow and require a careful diagnosis as imaging findings are difficult to confirm.

Displaced fractures or multi-fragmented fractures impact range of mobility and require further intervention. Surgery is a treatment option often utilizing structural aids such as pins, wires, screws, plates, sutures or a combination of these methods. If the affected bone is not able to regain its original shape, a bone graft or artificial replacement may be necessary.

 

Treatment Options:

Bracing

If the fracture is minimally displaced or non-displaced treatment options include bracing or the use of a cast often supplemented by physical therapy. The ultimate goal of bracing and/or a cast is to allow the fracture to heal naturally and cause no further damage. Physical therapy is used to ensure that the muscles in the affected area do not experience atrophy and full range of motion is restored.

Surgery

Displaced fractures or multi-fragmented fractures impact range of mobility and require further intervention. Surgery is a treatment option often utilizing structural aids such as pins, wires, screws, plates, sutures or a combination of these methods. If the affected bone is not able to regain its original shape, a bone graft or artificial replacement may be necessary.