What to do for a broken elbow?

An elbow fracture is basically a break in one of the bones that form the elbow joint. There are three bones that are likely to break such as the humerus, radius and ulna. To learn to recognize the symptoms and manage muscle and bone injuries such as a broken elbow, enroll in a course on first aid today in your area.

Elbow fractures

The elbow can break in various ways. In most cases, it occurs from a fall directly on the joint or any form of hard impact. Oftentimes, a broken elbow can occur if the individual falls onto an outstretched hand or due to a powerful muscular force. The triceps muscle that pulls on the olecranon process at the rear of the elbow is a good example.

Due to several major nerves and arteries that pass close to the bones of the elbow, complications can occur due to damage on these structures. A broken elbow should be carefully examined for any possible connected injuries.

Broken elbow

The elbow can break in various ways. In most cases, it occurs from a fall directly on the joint or any form of hard impact.

Coronoid process fractures

The coronoid process is the protrusion of bone on the ulna at the anterior end of the “cup” where the end of the humerus rests. Take note that this part is broken during a fall onto a straightened elbow and often linked with elbow dislocation.

The symptoms include tenderness, pain and swelling over the front part of the elbow joint. The non-displaced fractures can be managed with immobilization in a cast for 3-4 weeks. The displaced bone fragments would require surgery.

Intercondylar fractures

Intercondylar fracture is a break on the humerus in between the medial and lateral condyles at the inferior end of the bone. The fracture is described as T or Y shaped and has varying degrees of displacement of the fragmented bone segment.

The individual typically holds the arm in a flexed position with the palm facing downwards. The forearm appears shorter than the other one. The treatment for this form of broken elbow usually involves surgery since the fragments are displaced.

Capitellum fracture

The capitellum is the round-shaped lower end of the humerus that articulates with the radius of the forearm. A fracture on this area typically occurs due to a fall onto an extended hand. The symptoms include swelling and pain that occurs in the front part of the elbow. In most cases, the fractures are displaced and require surgical fixation.

Condylar fracture

The two projecting parts of the humerus on either side of the elbow are called as the epicondyles or simply condyles. A condylar fracture is basically a break to one of these bones. The exterior condyle is likely to fracture than the interior one. An injury to both is caused by falls or impacts.

The individual will complain of pain, limited range of motion and swelling. Take note that it is usual for some to feel a crunching sensation or sound when attempting to bend the elbow. As for a non-displaced fracture, it would require immobilization under a splint or cast is enough. In case the fragment becomes displaced, surgery is usually required.