The primary areas of injury in elbow fractures are to either the radius or ulna at their location and articulation at the elbow joint.
Fractures of the head of the radius account for approximately 20 % of all elbow fractures resulting in intense elbow joint pain. The most common mechanism of injury is a fall on an outstretched arm and hand.
This specific elbow injury is more commonly diagnosed in women and is usually seen between the ages of 30-40 years of age. Radial head fractures may also occur in a small percentage of elbow dislocations. Falling directly on the elbow does not commonly cause radial head fractures. Initial X-rays may not show the fracture but follow up x rays taken 3 weeks later may reveal a fracture site. In most instances, this fracture does not require surgery but in the event it is more complex, it may be necessary to undergo internal fixation procedure for best results.
Fractures of the radial head often have additional soft tissue damage to the ligaments surrounding this joint in addition to elbow joint pain. In severe instances, surgery is required to repair the damaged ligaments and bony fracture.
Common results of these elbow injury types may be reports of stiffness and eventual arthritis to the elbow joint. In some instances, the radial head may need to be removed due to the damage it sustains during injury.
The olecranon, or olecranon process is the bony prominence which is referred to as the point of the elbow. This point is that portion of the ulna which is most palpable just directly under the skin and is the one site most commonly associated with elbow fractures. In the younger population, fracture to this site is usually as a result of direct impact such as falling. There can also be associated nerve injuries at the time of trauma as well. In the older population the mechanism may be more one of avulsion, in which the tricep tendon pulls away from humerus bone as it bends under force.
In most instances, fracture to the olecranon will require broken elbow treatment surgery to restore the normal articulation with the humerus and repair the joint surface in the hopes of alleviating future arthritis.
In the event that broken elbow treatment surgery is required, most of these fractures heal and the end result is a return of functional elbow range of motion and cessation of pain. A high percentage of elbow injury patients fail to regain the ability to fully straighten the elbow. Future hardware removal is commonly necessary if symptoms related to hardware complications arise.
For more information on how the broken elbow treatment specialists at Cary Orthopaedics can help you, contact us today at 919-467-4992 for an appointment!
Cary Orthopaedics serves patients from Raleigh, Garner, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, Clayton, Chapel Hill, and Pittsboro, NC