Our elbows are vital to some of the daily tasks we perform, including things like washing your face, picking up objects, or anything that requires you to turn your palm up or down. Each year, many people suffer from an elbow fracture, which is another term for a broken elbow. Elbow fractures can result from a fall, a direct blow to the elbow, or an abnormal twisting of the arm. Here are 6 signs that you may have an elbow fracture:
Hand surgeon Benjamin R. Graves MD discusses the biceps brachii and the impact it has on the shoulders and elbows of athletes.
As an upper extremity surgeon, I see patients of all ages, sports, and skill levels for shoulder and elbow injuries on a daily basis. These problems can be acute or chronic and vary from mild to severe. Mild cases can often be treated with non-surgical measures, whereas more severe injuries may require surgery.
One muscle in particular, the biceps brachii (pronounced bray-key-eye), is frequently injured during sports activity, and is one of the more common reasons a patient may come to see me for evaluation. What makes this muscle unique is that it spans two joints, the shoulder and the elbow. This means that an injury to the “biceps” can involve the elbow, the shoulder, or both.
Hand surgeon Steven H. Goldberg, MD explains olecranon bursitis:
Olecranon bursitis is a common problem that causes pain and swelling near the point of the elbow. There are several causes of olecranon bursitis. In some people we never know what causes this problem. In other people it can begin with trauma or injury to the area. Blood can fill the area, inflammation can occur, or infection can cause the problem. Infections can be either sudden or can slowly grow and become very long lasting. Depending on the cause of the bursitis, the treatment may vary considerably and may just include observation or could require surgery to clean the area.
The olecranon is the pointy part of your elbow. The olecranon bursa is one of many bursas in your body. A bursa is a type of tissue below the skin that produces fluid and helps the skin or deeper tissues move across areas where a lot of motion occurs. The olecranon bursa, for example, helps the skin slide over the olecranon as you bend or straighten the elbow. Other areas where there are bursae include the subacromial and subdeltoid (shoulder) bursa, the greater trochanteric (hip) bursa, and the prepatellar (knee) bursa. Bursitis can occur at any of these areas.
Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure that can be used for the elbow and other parts of the body, commonly the knee and shoulder. The procedure involves a very small incision (cut). The surgeon uses a small instrument the size of a pencil (a fiberoptic camera) to look inside the joint. The camera will project onto a screen, allowing the hand surgeon to see the different structures in your elbow. Sometimes, multiple incisions will be made so the surgeon can place the camera in multiple positions.
Elbow arthroscopy can be used for many different conditions, including:
from the Cleveland Clinic
Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. But it doesn’t always tell you if you need medical treatment. So when pain develops in your hand, wrist or elbow, how do you know whether to treat it at home or see a doctor?
Orthopedic surgeon William Seitz, Jr., MD, who specializes in upper extremity problems, says if something is seriously wrong, you’ll know it.
A wrist fracture, for instance, will cause pain you can’t ignore. “When the pain is so bad you can’t move past it, call your doctor or head to the emergency department,” he says. If you don’t have that level of pain, then listen to your body. Take a moment to consider why you might be feeling pain and what it can tell you.
Olecranon bursitis is a condition in which painful swelling develops at the back of the elbow. Here are signs that you may have this condition:
- Swollen elbow (sometimes looking like a golf ball at the tip)
- Warmth around the elbow
- Draining pus
Most times, you feel no pain with olecranon bursitis. The swelling can either be gradual or happen at once. Sometimes, it can be painful if the bursa is infected.
A stiff elbow can be caused by a couple different things. It could be the result of a injury, such as a fall, and it could also result from a certain condition such as arthritis. Having a stiff elbow likely means that you are unable to move the elbow as you normally would. It makes it difficult to perform simple, everyday tasks. You likely cannot bend or straighten the elbow to pick up objects or rotate your palms to do things like wash your hands.
Here are different methods that your surgeon may recommend for treating a stiff elbow:
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.