An elbow fracture is a break in one or more of the bones that make up the elbow joint. The bones in the elbow joint are:
- 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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Elbow fractures are caused by trauma to the elbow bones. Trauma can be caused by:
- 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
This condition is more common in older adults.
Factors that may increase your risk of getting an elbow fracture include:
- 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
Elbow fracture may cause:
- 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
You will be asked about your symptoms, physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The area will be examined.
Imaging tests may include:
- X-rays to look for a break in the elbow area
- CT scan to look at the cartilage and tendons around the elbow
Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your elbow. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:
To help reduce your chance of getting an elbow fracture:
- 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.
To help reduce falling hazards at work and home:
- 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.