16. April 2015 14:40
The elbow joint, responsible for movement of the forearm, consists of three bones humerus, ulna, and radius. Elbow fracture results due to injury or hard blow that results in breaking or cracking any of the three bones. The condition is often classified as non-displaced, displaced, comminuted or open depending upon the type of breakage.
Some of the common causes of elbow fracture include
- A direct blow to the elbow
- Falling on the elbow
- A motor accident
- Landing on outstretched arm with elbow locked out straight
- Intense pain
- Inability to straighten elbow
- Pieces of bones sticking out of skin
- A pop sound heard at the time of injury
The patient with an elbow fracture will need to visit the orthopedic doctor as soon as possible as the pain often becomes unbearable. The surgeon may examine the skin to see any bone protrusions or risk of infection. The orthopedic doctor can also recommend imaging tests such as X-ray, MRI, CT scan and bone scans to check the extent of displacement.
The orthopedic doctor will determine a treatment method depending on the severity of the condition. He can administer medication; use ice, a splint or a cast to keep the elbow in a stationary position while it heals.
The surgeon will opt for surgery if non-surgical treatments are not working or if the injury is very severe. An open fracture involves a high risk of infection and it becomes necessary to treat it surgically as quickly as possible. Surgery is performed under anesthesia and the surgeon makes an incision to join the pieces of bone together. The surgeon may use pins or wires, plates, screws and sutures in the bone to join them. If the bone is severely damaged then bone filler may also be required.
Post surgery you may need to undergo a proper rehabilitation program to regain motion and return to normal activities. The orthopedic surgeon can recommend you to physical therapists who can help you restore the movement in the elbow. You may be recommended to not put pressure on the joint and lift anything heavy for a certain period of time.
Being careful and avoiding high impact on the joint can prevent elbow fracture. While playing sport or indulging in a strenuous activity you must wear protective gears to avoid blow to the elbow.