Fractured Elbow Treatment | Fractured Elbow Bone Surgery | Symptoms, Healing Time, Recovery and More
The elbow is comprised of three main bones namely, the humerus, radius, and the ulna. The humerus is the part, which is found on the upper portion of the arm that is in between the elbow and the shoulder. Radiuses, on the other hand, are forearm bones which connects the wrist and the elbow while the ulna is the bone which runs the medial side of the forearm or the pinky finger. The ulna is the part of the elbow which is most sensitive to fractures because it does not have enough soft tissues and muscle protection. This makes the elbow bone easily breakable especially if the person experiences an accident or blow directly to the elbow area.
Types of elbow fractures
• Olecranon fracture- the olecranon is the tip of the ulna bone, which can be felt directly under the elbow. It is only covered by a thin layer of tissue so it can be easily broken when hit. Most fractured elbows are classified as olecranon fractures. It can be treated with therapy but some cases with severely displaced ligaments may need surgery.
• Displaced supracondylar- this is a case most common in children and elderly people. Unlike the other type of elbow fracture, this one is caused by a displaced humerus bone which affects the neighboring arteries and nerves causing severe pains. Most cases of displaced humerus need immediate surgery except for few cases wherein the humerus does not cause any injury on the arteries and nerves.
Fractured Elbow Diagnosis
A doctor will require an x-ray on the elbow first for the diagnosis. Sometimes, there are also cases when a CT scan may also be needed for more specific inspection of the surface of the joints. If stiffness is the main problem of the fractured elbow, a doctor may prescribe on treatments that are concentrated on speeding up the healing process such as therapies. A patient will be recommended to use preventive mobilization tools like casts or slings to eliminate the chance of healing an elbow bone that is displaced.
The type of treatment is also highly dependent on the age of the patient. Casts are normally prescribed to children because they have higher tendencies to move their injured elbows. Displaced and unstable fractures may need surgery in order to put the bones on their proper places and get rid of the bone fragments. Patients who have open skin fractures are immediately sent to surgery to clean out the injured area and prevent the development of a serious infection.
• Direct blow. Fractured elbows can be caused by direct blows like falling, landing on the elbows, or by getting hit by hard objects. Vehicular accidents can also cause this injury.
• Indirect fracture- unlike the first cause which involves landing on the elbows, indirect fractures involve falling on an outstretched arm or if a person falls on his wrist with the elbow stuck straight up. This causes the muscle of the triceps to pull the tip of the ulna, causing the fracture.
Symptoms of Fractured Elbow
• Bruises or open skins on the elbow may be signs of bone breakage and bone protrusion.
• Pain and swelling.
• A feeling of stiffness or numbness underneath or around the elbow.
• Elbow deformity can be the result of dislocated bones on the joints.
• Constant pain brought about by nerve or artery damage.
• Swelling of elbow parts.
• Inability to freely move the fingers.
Treatment For Fractured Elbow
Treatment can involve non-surgical procedures like therapies or the use of slings. Fractured elbow therapies utilize exercises like massages and hot or cold treatments to ease the pain and speed up the healing process. The use of slings and casts, on the other hand, are prescribed for those who need to stretch their joints. Slings can also help severely displaced bones to be realigned on their proper positions.
Surgery, on the other hand, is mostly done on displaced fractures and open skin fractures. In this treatment, the patient is given a general anesthesia and the surgeon creates an incision on the back of the elbow where he aligns and puts back the bones together. The pieces of bones will be held by screws, plates, or sutures and even the tendons will be stitched together.
When to Call a Doctor
If you had an accident, which triggered an open wound and obvious fractures in the elbow, it is best that you immediately go to your doctor because open wounds with bone fractures can become very serious cases especially when infections occur.