Conditions & Treatments

Elbow Fracture

The tip of the elbow is called the olecranon, and it can be fractured by a direct blow or a fall on a bent elbow. Olecranon fractures are typically marked by intense pain; numbness in the fingers; tenderness, swelling, or bruising over the elbow; and pain with movement.

Your physician will wish to determine whether nerve or blood vessel damage has occurred. He or she will also likely obtain X-rays to diagnose the fracture more precisely and determine whether surgery is required. Fractures are typically classified as type I, II, or III. Type I has little displacement of the bone, Type II show displacement but remains relatively stable, and Type III involves more than half the joint surface, causing joint instability. Treatment varies by type of fracture as follows: type I usually does not require surgery and can be treated by immobilization in a splint or sling. Type II typically requires surgery and fixation with pins or screws. Physical therapy can be commenced with a few days and often continues for weeks. Type III are treated by surgery as with type II but also require immobilization prior to physical therapy. These therapies may be altered in cases of stress fractures or fractures in the elderly.