Elbow fractures are breaks in the bones within the elbow. There are multiple types of fractures that can occur in the elbow.
Most elbow fractures occur when a child falls on an outstretched arm with a lot of force from the fall. This impact can cause a fracture or break near the elbow.
There are 3 bones that create the elbow joint (the humerus, the radius and the ulna). These bones, along with the ligaments, tendons and muscles allow the elbow to move like a hinge, bending and straightening. The big bone is the humerus, which is in the upper part of the arm. The radius and the ulna are the 2 bones of the forearm (or lower arm). The radius runs along the side of the thumb and the ulna runs along the side of the small finger.
Common symptoms associated with elbow fractures include:
After the healthcare provider asks you and your child questions and does a physical exam, you’ll likely go to a room where an X-ray will be taken. The healthcare provider will examine the X-ray to determine the type of elbow fracture your child has.
There are several types of elbow fractures. The most common include:
There are several different treatment options depending on the fracture and how severe it is. If the fracture is not displaced, a simple cast is likely to be applied for 3–6 weeks with periodic radiographs. If the fracture is displaced, a so-called “reduction” (pushing the bones back into place) will be required.
If the reduction doesn’t work, or if the fracture is so severely displaced that a reduction would not be sufficient, surgery may be required. Surgery includes placing the bones back into place and then fixing them using pins, screws and/or wires. Most children regain their range of motion 1–2 months after the cast is removed. While in most cases physical therapy is not required, your doctor might decide to prescribe it if the condition is severe enough to require it.
See more information