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(Broken Elbow; Elbow, Broken)
- Humerus—the upper arm bone
- Ulna—the larger of the forearm bones
- Radius—the smaller bone in the forearm
|The Elbow Joint|
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- Falling on an outstretched arm
- Falling directly on the elbow
- Experiencing a direct blow to the elbow
- Twisting the elbow beyond the normal range of motion
- Advancing age
- Certain diseases or conditions that result in bone or mineral loss, such as abnormal or absent menstrual cycles, or post- menopause
- Certain diseases and conditions that weaken bones, such as tumors or cysts
- Decreased muscle mass
- Playing certain sports, such as football, hockey, wrestling, or gymnastics
- Pain (often severe)
- Tenderness, swelling, and bruising around the elbow
- Numbness in fingers, hand, or forearm
- Decreased range of motion
- A lump or visible deformity over the fracture site
- Without surgery—you will have anesthesia to decrease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into place
- With surgery—pins, wires, plates, screws, or stitches in the bone or tendons may be needed to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place
Rest and Recovery
- Do not put yourself at risk for a trauma to the elbow.
- Exercise regularly to maintain strength, agility, and to prevent falls.
- Learn the proper technique and wear protective equipment for exercise and sporting activities.
- Clean spills and slippery areas right away
- Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs, and clutter
- Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower
- Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub
- Put in handrails on both sides of stairways
- Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls
- Keep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://www.orthoinfo.org
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.sportsmed.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
Distal radius fracture. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated August 24, 2013. Accessed September 10, 2013.
Elbow fractures in children. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00037 . Updated October 2007. Accessed September 10, 2013.
Elbow (olecranon) fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00503 . Updated October 2007. Accessed September 10, 2013.
Proximal humeral fracture. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us . Updated March 18, 2013. Accessed September 10, 2013.
What are ways to prevent falls and related fractures? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health%5FInfo/Bone/Osteoporosis/Fracture/prevent%5Ffalls%5Fff.asp . Updated January 2011. Accessed September 10, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2013
- Update Date: 09/30/2013