If you've ever hit your "funny bone," you know how even a minor injury to the complex elbow joint can be majorly painful. The pain the is felt may indicate that the bones of the elbow have been injured more than a little. An elbow fracture may be signaled by pain that is accompanied by swelling, lack of mobility, and numbness in the hand. Severe fractures may be obvious if bones are displaced.
Children are at a particularly high risk for elbow fractures because of the wide variety of activities they may engage in. This type of injury may occur if they land directly on the elbow during a fall, if they fall on an outstretched arm, or if the elbow takes a direct blow, such as during a sporting activity. It is possible to decrease this risk by making sure that your child wears appropriate protective gear when biking or skateboarding, and when playing sports.
Is it a Break?
A thorough examination is needed to confirm an elbow fracture. After discussing the potential injury, we assess the elbow for bruises, swelling, tenderness, and limited range of motion. The hand is also observed for changes in color that may indicate disruption to circulation.
It is important to treat an elbow fracture so the elbow does not heal in such a way that it can no longer bend or straighten properly. Not every injury to this joint requires surgery. However, an elbow injury does need to be treated sooner rather than later.
Nonsurgical treatment for an elbow fracture often requires immobilization of the joint. This is achieved with a splint or a cast that is worn for several weeks as new bone tissue regenerates to heal the injury. Casts are more supportive than splints, but cannot be adjusted to accommodate swelling. For this reason, some fractures are first treated with a splint, then a cast, as swelling subsides. At some point during treatment, x-rays will be performed to assess the progress of healing.
The team at Advanced Orthopedics provides friendly care to patients of all ages. To discuss the diagnosis and treatment of an elbow injury or other orthopedic condition, call (973) 942-1315.