What You Should Know About An Elbow Fracture Injury

Think about how it feels when you hit what many call your “funny bone.” Ouch! Now imagine how painful it must be to fracture your elbow. Here are some important facts and what you should know about an elbow fracture injury.

An Elbow Fracture Injury Is Common In Children

Children play with abandon. They have no concept of hurting themselves nor do they practice safe play on all manner of playground equipment. No matter how many times they hear “be careful”, it won’t matter.

They will run, jump, get on their bike, scooter, or skateboard and never give a thought to hurting themselves. It’s no surprise that the American Academy Of Orthopedic Surgeons informs us that 10% of kids’ breaks are elbows.

Adults And Elbow Fractures

bones highlighted on person's arm and elbow. patient with elbow pain

Yes, many children injure their elbows, but so do adults. Falling off something or down from something precipitates the fracture as you try to stop the fall.

It commonly happens in the following ways:

  • You bang your elbow into something like a wall.
  • You fall and land on your elbow.
  • Something hits your elbow hard. This could be during a sporting event, like a hockey stick or football helmet. This could also happen in an automobile accident.
  • If you fall down off a bike or a ladder with your arm fully extended.

Signs Of A Fractured Elbow

It is important to note that a broken/fractured elbow is a serious injury and needs immediate medical attention. Unless it is treated properly and quickly, there can be complications and long term consequences, especially in young children.

Swelling of the elbow itself or above or below the elbow joint is a sign of a fracture. Look for any deformity near the elbow, bruising, discoloration, or redness. A fracture will make it difficult to move the elbow joint through its normal range of motion. In addition you may have numbness in the hand, fingers or forearm along with severe pain.

See OrthoNY immediately if there is swelling, a new lump or bump, a grinding or popping sound heard with movement, if motion becomes limited, and if the area turns bluish, purple, or black as this can mean bleeding.

Treatment Options For A Fractured Elbow Injury

Not all fractures require surgery.

Non-surgical treatments include the following:

  • Splints are used before a cast to allow for swelling to go down.
  • Casts are required to keep bones from moving so healing can take place.
  • Closed reduction takes place before a splint or cast is applied. This process repositions the bones in place so proper healing can happen.
  • The physician may want additional X-Rays taken at any point to be sure the bones are healing properly.

Surgical treatment is required if the bones have been completely displaced and need to be realigned for healing. Sometimes hardware is needed to keep everything in its proper place.

Contact OrthoNY at (518) 489-2663 immediately if you suspect you or your child has fractured an elbow.

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