Elbow Fracture Treatment | Elbow Bone Fracture Surgery | Fractured Elbow Healing Time, Symptoms and Recovery
The elbow is the bone that joins the three large bones of the arm. These bones are the humerus, the radius and the ulna. On the elbow are ligaments, tendons, and muscles and all these maintain the stability of the three bones that are attached to it. Fractures in the elbow are not unusual in both children and adults because the elbow usually guards the body during a fall. However, it can also fracture or get dislocated whenever it experience trauma and when there is an elbow fracture there could be the disruption of the blood flow to the arm thus the loss of sensation to the lower arm. A fracture in the elbow can involve either one or two of the arm bones especially when fatal accidents crush the whole arm.
Elbow Fractures Types
The most common type of elbow fracture is the olecranon fracture. Olecranon is the bony part of the elbow where the ligaments and tendons join the 3 major arm bones. Two things can happen with olecranon fracture.
• Non-displaced fracture where the olecranon breaks but still intact. This type is easy to manage because it can be treated by immobilization and the use of a splint, therapy and motion exercises.
• Displaced fracture is when the olecranon is severely positioned out of its socket and has broken bones, damaged tendons and ligaments. Usually this type requires surgery and the use of pins, screws, wires or plates to hold the shattered olecranon bones together.
Your doctor may not instantly form his theories with regards to your elbow fracture without conducting a thorough diagnosis. He will need information about your medical history including past injuries and surgeries, your level of activity, medications that you take and how and when did the injury occur? He will also perform a physical examination with regards to your injury and other parts of your body that is near your elbow so that he can affirm if no other damage occurs.
Examining your hand and wrist to check if the blood vessels are damaged will also be the doctor’s priority so that he will know if there is enough blood supply in your arm. An x-ray will confirm his theories and from there he can conclude if you will need casting or goes further to surgery and bone repair.
Elbow Fracture Causes
Any person can fracture his elbow in many different ways. It may happen due to sports such as overusing the arm in throwing a ball, arm wrestling and lifting heavy weights. Traumatic events such as a direct blow to the elbow or a high-impact fall can also cause an instant elbow fracture. The tendency of the person to cover his body with his arms when falling on a hard surface can really rupture the ligaments of the elbow. Other examples are motorcycle or car collisions. There are also cases where people are resting their elbows on their car windows and other cars sideswiped their cars and smash their arms.
You could find many symptoms when there is a fracture in the elbow and these symptoms can be any of the following:
• There is a severe pain on the elbow area right after the trauma.
• Swelling on the elbow will occur hours after the trauma
• The injured person cannot straighten his elbow and if he tries to, the pain would become severe
• Bruising will occur after the swelling
• The fractured part will be very tender if touched
Elbow Fracture Treatment
While waiting for the medical aid, cover the wound if there is any with a clean bandage. If there is heavy bleeding you have to apply firm pressure on the wound except if bones are protruding. Put ice compress on the swollen area. Immobilize the fracture with the use of improvised splint such as rolled up magazines or two pillows on the sides just to support the arm. Do not ever attempt to move or straighten a broken bone or you can cause more damage to the arm.
At the hospital, the doctor will conduct a quick x-ray to your fractured elbow. If there is no need for surgery then splinting or casting your arm can heal your fractured elbow in weeks. For severe and fragmented olecranon bone, an operation might be needed to repair the broken bones, blood vessels, nerves, tendons and ligaments. Metal wires may be needed in order to connect disintegrated bones. Therapy follows after the elbow has recuperated.
Because generally broken elbows are the result from participating in active sports, falls from high places or motor vehicle crashes, the most logical thing to do to prevent this injury is to cover your elbow with protective pads whenever you put your arm at risk. In driving a car, your seatbelt can be your best protection for any injury in the event the car crashes. Also, do not drink if you drive and do not put your arm out of your car’s window while driving. While at home, you have to clear your floor from clutters like electrical cords, slippery rugs, toys and so on because these might trip you over. Also wipe spills immediately from the floor so that even the children are safe.
When to Call A Doctor
Once you see swelling right on the fractured area and then bruises appear, then it is time to bring the person to a hospital because this can spell not only a broken elbow but also damaged nerves to the hand. The most serious type of broken elbow that needs immediate medical attention is a deformed elbow. Another case is a fractured elbow with an open wound or bone protruding from the area of elbow.