Radial Head Fracture: Elbow Doctor Plano

The elbow joint comprises of three main bones - the proximal radius, proximal ulna and the distal humerus. The radial head is the upper part of the radius, one of the two bones that form the forearm. A break, crack or displacement in this part of the elbow joint is termed as the Radial Head Fracture. Such fractures can be classified into categories based on their severity:

  • Type 1- These are small fractures or cracks which may not even be visible in X-rays. The bone remains intact and no displacement occurs
  • Type 2- May involve slight displacement and a larger part of the bone may have been damaged
  • Type 3- The bone is broken into multiple pieces and is largely displaced. Such injuries are serious and are accompanied by damage to the soft tissues as well as ligaments

Causes

  • Direct hit or trauma to the elbow joint
  • Falling on an outstretched hand
  • Sports injury

Symptoms

  • Swelling on the outer part of the elbow
  • Bruising
  • Pain which can be acute
  • Inability to move the arm, wrist or straighten the elbow
  • Visible deformity may occur in case of type 3 fracture
  • Tenderness in the injured part
  • The forearm, hands and fingers may turn pale or numb

Diagnosis

  • Detailed physical examination of the injured arm and symptoms
  • The elbow doctor may ask for details regarding the time and mode of injury
  • The doctor may palpate the injured elbow to check for deformity
  • Examination of the arm, wrist and fingers for loss of function or nerve sensation
  • X-ray images may be required to assess the severity and exact location of damage
  • MRI scans may be recommended in case the doctor suspects soft tissue or ligament injury

Treatment

  • Prescription of painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs for immediate relief
  • Application of ice packs during the first 24-48 hours of injury may reduce pain and swelling
  • The injured arms should be rested by keeping it elevated
  • Use of a splint or sling may be recommended for a stipulated time period
  • Avoid moving the injured elbow joint and give it adequate rest
  • Joint aspiration- use of a syringe to drain out excess fluids if they accumulate in or near the joint
  • Surgical intervention may be required to remove bone pieces if they restrict joint movement
  • Screws, wires and plates may be used internally or externally to reposition the displaced bone
  • Surgery may be conducted for soft tissue or ligament damage if detected
  • Surgical replacement with an artificial radial head in case of severe damage
  • Specific range of motion exercises may be recommended to combat stiffness and restore flexibility of the joint

OrthoTexas provides comprehensive treatment for radial head fracture and other elbow problems. To schedule an appointment with our elbow doctors in Plano, TX, call at (972) 985 – 1072.

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