Hand surgeon Benjamin R. Graves, MD answers your questions about elbow fractures.
Of all the joints in the body, the elbow is one of the most complex. This complexity comes from the fact that the “elbow joint” is made up of three separate joints that form where the humerus, radius, and ulna bones meet. Under normal circumstances, these three joints work together seamlessly to allow the flexion, extension, and forearm rotation we need to brush our hair and teeth, feed ourselves, turn a door handle, serve a tennis ball, and perform a multitude of other daily tasks.
Fractures involving the elbow can range in severity, from relatively minor injuries that heal on their own, to more severe injuries that require surgery. Elbow fractures can also lead to a lot of questions for patients and their families. I have compiled a list of five questions that I am frequently asked regarding elbow fractures.
I hurt my elbow. How do I know if I have an elbow fracture?
Elbow fractures can occur in a variety of ways. Low-energy injuries, such as falls from standing or bumping the elbow onto a hard object can lead to small, stable fractures that can easily be mistaken for a sprain or strain. They don’t always cause deformity or instability, and might only cause limited swelling and hurt-to-the-touch in a specific location. These injuries may hurt for days or weeks and then stop hurting on their own.