There are several bones you could break if you fracture your elbow, all of which are likely to result in severe pain and loss of function. If you're concerned that you have an elbow fracture, expert hand and upper extremity surgeon Luke Nicholson, MD, can help. Dr. Nicholson has offices in Beverly Hills and at the Keck Medical Center in Downtown Los Angeles, California, where he provides both nonsurgical and minimally invasive surgical solutions for patients with elbow fractures. For the best possible care, call Luke Nicholson MD or schedule a consultation using the online booking form today.
An elbow fracture could affect any of the bones in your elbow joint. The most common types of elbow fracture include:
An olecranon fracture is a break in the bony point of your elbow. The olecranon is at the end of your ulna, one of the bones in your forearm. It's close to the skin with little soft tissue protection, and it can break easily from a direct blow or if you fall on your outstretched arm.
A radial head fracture commonly occurs alongside elbow dislocation, typically after falling on your hands to save yourself. The radius is the smaller bone in your forearm, and the head is the end that forms part of your elbow joint.
A distal humerus fracture occurs in the part of your upper arm bone (humerus) that forms your elbow joint. In younger people, this type of elbow fracture is often due to a trauma such as an auto accident, but it can happen after a fall if your bones are weak.
Immobilizing your arm with a splint and supporting it in a sling helps keep your elbow in the best position. Using ice to reduce swelling and pain may also help, along with pain-relieving medications.
An elbow fracture where the broken bones still line up might only require splinting for six weeks to allow time for natural healing. If the bones are out of alignment (displaced), you might need surgery.
The procedure Dr. Nicholson uses to repair your elbow fracture depends on the nature of the injury. Possible procedures include:
Dr. Nicholson repositions the bone fragments then fixes them in place using screws, pins, wires, or metal plates that attach to the outer aspect of the bone. In some cases, it’s necessary to remove bone fragments that are too small to repair or use a bone graft to rebuild the elbow.
If you have a severe open fracture, Dr. Nicholson might use an external fixator to secure the bones. He inserts metal pins into your bones that protrude through your skin, then attaches them to carbon fiber bars.
If your elbow suffers such severe injuries that Dr. Nicholson can't repair it, you might need to undergo an elbow replacement operation. This procedure involves removing the damaged bone and attaching metal and plastic implants to your humerus and ulna.
For superior repair of your elbow fracture, call the office of Luke Nicholson MD today or book an appointment online.