Elbow Fracture Repair

The Elbow Center
at Modern Orthopedics of New Jersey

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Paramus

72 Route 17 North
Paramus, NJ 07652

Wayne

2025 Hamburg Turnpike
STE C, Wayne, NJ 07470

Parsippany

3799 US-46
#207, Parsippany, NJ 07054

An elbow fracture is a relatively common injury that often occurs as the result of a direct blow to the elbow, a fall directly onto the elbow, or a fall onto a straight, outstretched arm (usually in an attempt to brace against the fall).

If you suspect you may have fractured your elbow, you should seek medical attention immediately. The information below provides an overview of the injury and what to expect in terms of treatment and recovery.

What Does a Fractured Elbow Look Like?

A fractured elbow is usually swollen and intensely painful. Understanding the anatomy of the elbow joint can help patients to better visualize this injury.

Anatomy

The elbow joint is composed of three bones: The humerus (upper arm bone), radius, and ulna (lower arm bones), and held together by its architecture as well as various ligaments, tendons, and muscles. A hinge joint that bends and straightens, the elbow joint also allows for rotation in the lower arm and hand (palm up or palm down).

The tip of the elbow is actually the end of the ulna, known as the olecranon. Though an elbow fracture may occur in any one of the three arm bones (or more than one), fractures involving the olecranon are most common.

Other types of elbow fractures include:

  • Radial head and neck fractures
  • Capitellar fractures
  • Coronoid process fractures
  • Distal humerus fractures
    • Supracondylar fractures
    • Lateral condyle fractures
    • Medial condyle fractures

What Are Some Fractured Elbow Symptoms?

Symptoms of a fractured elbow include:

  • Intense pain and swelling
  • Bruising around the elbow that may travel up the arm
  • Numbness in the hand or fingers
  • Limited ability to move the elbow or rotate the forearm
  • Instability

What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose a Fractured Elbow?

Your doctor or orthopedic surgeon will begin with a physical examination of your arm and confirm the diagnosis of an elbow fracture with an X-ray.

Consult With a New Jersey-Based Healthcare Professional Regarding Your Pain

Suspect you may have fractured your elbow? Contact Modern Orthopedics of New Jersey for an emergency appointment today!

How Are Elbow Fractures Treated?

Though simple elbow fractures can sometimes heal without surgical intervention, this type of injury often requires surgical treatment for optimal healing and outcomes.

Nonsurgical Treatment

If you’ve sustained an elbow fracture where the bones have cracked but not moved out of place, your doctor may recommend nonsurgical treatment with a splint, sling, and plenty of rest. After approximately six weeks in a splint or a brace, physical therapy rehabilitation is usually necessary to regain strength and range of motion.

Surgical Treatment

If you’ve sustained a fracture where the bones have become misaligned (displaced), there are multiple breaks or bone fragments, or the fracture is open (the skin has been damaged, exposing the bone and increasing the risk of infection), surgical treatment will be necessary.

The most common surgery for treating elbow fractures is Open Reduction and Internal Fixation surgery (ORIF). This surgery involves opening the elbow joint, realigning the bone fragments, and securing them in place with screws, wires, pins, or metal plates.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do All Elbow Fractures Require Surgery?

No. Displaced or open elbow fractures require surgery, but simpler elbow fractures (ones that haven’t displaced) may be able to heal properly with splinting and immobilization.

How Long Does a Fractured Elbow Take To Heal?

Without surgery, an elbow fracture will need to be splinted for four to six weeks, followed by weeks to months of physical therapy rehabilitation. After surgical treatment, most patients are able to begin early range of motion, and ultimately can regain full strength and often near full range of motion within a year or less.  

How Can I Manage Symptoms After an Elbow Fracture?

Follow your orthopedic surgeon’s instructions for resting, icing, and elevating your elbow, as well as managing your pain with prescription or nonprescription medications.

What Are the Potential Complications of an Elbow Fracture?

The main complications associated with elbow fractures are loss of motion and posttraumatic arthritis. It is fairly common for the elbow to get stiff to some extent after sustaining a fracture, and this can happen even if you don’t require surgery.  Treatment for elbow stiffness can require a longer course of physical therapy and sometimes require special braces to optimize range of motion.

Speak to your orthopedic surgeon about potential complications that may be specific to your circumstances and how to mitigate them.

 Our Awarded
Specialists

Peter DeNoble, MD

Peter DeNoble, MD, FAAOS

Hand, Wrist, Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

David Ratliff, MD, FAAOS

David Ratliff, MD, FAAOS

Hand, Wrist, Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

David Ratliff, MD, FAAOS

Alejandro Morales-Restrepo, MD

Hand, Wrist, Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

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Modern Orthopaedics specializes in conditions and treatments of the shoulder, elbow, hand/wrist, hip, knee and foot/ankle with locations in Wayne, Parsippany, and Paramus, NJ.

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