Category : Elbow Fracture

Bones Elbow Elbow Fracture Hand

Ask a Doctor: Elbow Fractures

Elbow Fractures

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.

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Random Fact: Broken Bone

Close-up of a young woman's hand in plaster.

Did you know? Just because you can move a body part doesn’t mean a bone isn’t broken. Learn more about the signs of a broken bone in the hand, arm, elbow and shoulder.

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Elbow Elbow Fracture Hand

6 signs of an elbow fracture

A young woman touching her painful elbow

An elbow fracture is another term for a broken elbow. It can result from a fall, a direct blow to the elbow, or an abnormal twisting of the arm. An x-ray can confirm if you have fractured your elbow, but how do you know whether to visit a hand surgeon or the emergency room? Here are 6 signs of an elbow fracture:

  1. Swelling and bruising of the elbow
  2. Extreme pain
  3. Stiffness in and around the elbow
  4. Snap or pop at the time of the injury
  5. Visible deformity
  6. Numbness or weakness in the arm, wrist and hand

Some elbow fractures are more severe than others. If the bones have not moved and have low risk of moving, a sling, cast or splint will be used to treat the injury. If the fracture is more severe, surgery may be required.

Learn more about the different types of elbow fractures, potential treatment options, and long-term side effects of this injury at www.handcare.org.

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