Elbow Fracture Overview
The elbow is very good at one of its prime missions: extending the arm quickly to protect the body from impact. Inside your elbow, there are three bones (humerus, ulna, and radius) constantly moving your arm and turning your wrist. Any of these bones are at risk of fracturing, especially if you engage in vigorous sports or have developed osteoporosis due to age, poor diet, or genetics. If your elbow experiences extreme force, any of these bones can fracture or even shatter into several pieces. Sometimes one of the bones will crack but remain in place. This means the bone is weakened but still in alignment.
A broken bone in the elbow is becomes a more complicated problem if the trauma that shattered the bone also damages the surrounding ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Sometimes there is even damage inflicted upon the vital nerves and blood vessels.
Experienced Chicago orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Anthony Romeo is skilled in identifying the extent or your injury and determining appropriate treatment. With a significant fracture, you will most likely need surgery to ensure the bone heals efficiently and in proper alignment.
How to Treat an Elbow Fracture
An elbow fracture is something you cannot safely ignore. It requires immediate assessment by a doctor to decide if surgery is needed. In some cases, bones can be repositioned without surgery—this is called a closed reduction procedure. Otherwise, a surgical procedure called open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) may be done immediately. No matter which technique is appropriate to your injury, proper healing is essential to normal functioning of your arm.
Open Reduction and Internal Fixation
Open reduction is a technique during which the surgeon cuts through the skin and muscle to access the bone to mend it and return it to proper alignment. This is performed with general anesthesia and may take several hours. The internal fixation part of the term refers to the way your surgeon reconnects the bone, sometimes using plates and screws.
Not everyone will be a candidate for ORIF, but your chances of needing the procedure are great if you have serious misalignment of fractured bones, or you have bones that have shattered into several pieces or even broken through the skin.
Elbow Fracture Recovery
After surgery, you will need to follow a course of physical therapy, supplemented by home exercises, to rebuild strength and flexibility in the muscles and ligaments and ensure maximum range of motion. Dr. Romeo will provide specific instructions to manage any post-op pain.
For more information about causes and treatment of elbow fractures, please request an appointment with experienced Chicago orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Anthony Romeo. Call or email our office today to schedule your visit.
Want to know more? Here’s one of Dr. Romeo’s recent medical journal articles about elbow fractures.
Anthony Romeo, MD
Dr. Anthony Romeo is one of the nation’s leading orthopaedic surgeons specializing in the management and surgical treatment of shoulder and elbow conditions. His state-of-the-art practice employs minimally-invasive arthroscopic techniques to accelerate the recovery process for a range of challenging conditions.