Managing and recovering from an elbow fracture | The Rehab Centre
Select Page

Understanding Elbow Fractures: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Recovery

28th Apr, 2024

Management of elbow fractures in Singapore

So you’ve fallen and broke your elbow. Wondering what you can do it and what happens from here? Fret not. Hopefully this short read will give you some clarity as you go through your rehabilitation! 

Elbow fractures are common! 

Elbow fractures are common injuries that can occur due to various reasons, ranging from sports accidents to falls. Understanding the causes, symptoms, treatment options, and recovery process is crucial for effectively managing elbow fractures and promoting optimal healing. In this article, we hope we can shed light on important aspects to help YOU navigate this injury with confidence! 

How do elbows fracture?

Elbow fractures can result from traumatic incidents such as falls onto an outstretched hand, direct blows to the elbow, or sudden impacts during sports activities. These fractures often involve one or more of the three bones that comprise the elbow joint: the humerus (upper arm bone), radius, and ulna (forearm bones). Common causes of elbow fractures include:

  • Falls: Landing on an outstretched hand with force can exert significant pressure on the elbow joint, leading to fractures.
  • Sports Injuries: High-impact sports such as football, basketball, and skateboarding pose a risk of elbow fractures due to collisions or falls during gameplay.
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents: The impact of a car crash can result in severe trauma to the elbow.
  • Direct Trauma: A direct blow to the elbow, such as from a heavy object or during a physical altercation.

Symptoms of elbow fractures

Elbow fractures can vary in severity depending on the specific type and location of the fracture. Some common symptoms include:

1. Pain

Pain is a primary symptom of elbow fractures, often described as sharp, intense, or throbbing. The pain may be localised to the elbow region but can radiate along the arm. It tends to worsen with movement, especially when bending or straightening the elbow, and may also be aggravated by applying pressure to the affected area.

2. Swelling

Swelling typically occurs around the elbow joint as a result of inflammation and the body’s natural response to injury. The swelling can range from mild to pronounced and may cause visible puffiness or a feeling of fullness in the elbow region. It often develops rapidly following the injury and may persist for several days.

3. Bruising

Bruising usually appears on the skin overlying the fractured elbow. This discoloration occurs due to the leakage of blood from damaged blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface. The bruising may vary in intensity and color, initially appearing red or purple and later turning to shades of blue, green, or yellow as it resolves. P.s. bones have A LOT of bone vessels. Hence when they are broken, some blood vessels gets broken as well, hence the bleeding and bruising!

4. Limited Range of Motion

Elbow fractures can impair the normal range of motion of the joint, leading to stiffness and difficulty moving the arm. Individuals with an elbow fracture may experience challenges in fully straighteningbending the elbow. The range of motion may be significantly restricted, depending on the severity and location of the fracture. This is super important since we need to achieve full movement during your rehab! Hence it’s important to seek help early esepcially after you’ve broken a bone! 

5. Visible Deformity

In some cases, particularly with severe or displaced fractures, a visible deformity or abnormal alignment of the elbow may be apparent. The elbow may appear misshapen, crooked, or swollen compared to the unaffected arm. This deformity may be visually striking and can indicate a more complex fracture pattern.

6. Numbness or Tingling

Nerve compression or injury associated with an elbow fracture can lead to sensations of numbness, tingling, or “pins and needles” in the forearm, hand, or fingers. These symptoms may be present immediately following the injury or develop gradually over time. There are some important nerves that runs past the elbow and into the arm, hence when there is bleeding or swellingm they begin to irritate these nerves, which will go on to cause some numbness and tingling in your fingers. 

7. Weakness

Muscle weakness or diminished strength in the affected arm is common with elbow fractures, particularly if pain and limited mobility restrict normal use of the limb. You may experience difficulty gripping objects, performing tasks that require lifting or carrying, or engaging in activities that involve arm movements. Weakness may be noticeable both during daily activities and when attempting to exert force with the injured arm.

How do you manage an elbow fracture?

The treatment approach for elbow fractures depends on various factors, including the severity and type of fracture, as well as the patient’s age and overall health. Treatment options may include:

A. Immobilisation

For stable fractures, immobilisation with a splint or cast may be sufficient to allow the bones to heal properly.  

B. Surgical Intervention

Severe or displaced fractures may require surgical intervention, such as an open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) procedure, which uses screws, plates, or pins to stabilize the fractured bones.

C. Physiotherapy

Following immobilisation or surgery, Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in restoring range of motion, strength, and function to the elbow joint.

D. Pain Management

Pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to alleviate discomfort and reduce inflammation during the healing process.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Recovery from an elbow fracture can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the chosen treatment approach. However, following medical advice and adhering to a comprehensive rehabilitation program can facilitate a smooth recovery process. Key aspects of recovery and rehabilitation include:

  • Immobilisation Period: You may need to wear a cast, splint, or brace for several weeks to protect the healing bones and promote proper alignment.
  • Gradual Mobilisation: As the fracture heals, gradual mobilization exercises prescribed by a physical or hand therapist can help prevent stiffness and improve range of motion.
  • Strength Training: Progressive strengthening exercises target the muscles surrounding the elbow joint to regain strength and stability.
  • Functional Activities: Rehabilitation also focuses on functional activities such as lifting, gripping, and reaching to restore everyday functionality.
  • Monitoring Progress: Regular follow-up appointments with healthcare providers ensure that the healing process is progressing as expected, with adjustments made to the treatment plan as needed.

Elbow fractures can be painful and debilitating, but with proper diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation, you can achieve a full recovery and return to their normal activities. Early recognition of symptoms, prompt medical intervention, and diligent rehabilitation efforts are essential for optimizing outcomes and minimizing long-term complications associated with elbow fractures. If you’re looking to rehabilitate your elbow following a fracture,  don’t hesitate to contact us for appropriate evaluation and management.

DISCLAIMER: These informations should not replace the need for a consultation with our medical team especially if your condition doesn’t improve. Therapeutic exercise should be carefully selected to suit your condition.

Share Post:

Latest Posts

Understanding Early Stage of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Understanding Early Stage of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

Living with diabetes comes with its own set of challenges, one of which is the increased risk of developing foot ulcers. These ulcers, if left untreated, can lead to serious complications.In this article, we'll delve into what exactly diabetes is, why it poses a...

What is the pain in my butt?!

What is the pain in my butt?!

Pain in the butt! Deep gluteal syndrome (DGS) is a challenging condition characterised by pain and discomfort in the buttock region. This comprehensive guide provides insights into the nature of DGS, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options, empowering...

Pain in the shoulder blade. What can it be?

Pain in the shoulder blade. What can it be?

Pain in the shoulder blade The shoulder blade, or scapula, is a crucial component of the shoulder complex, playing a significant role in facilitating a wide range of movements. However, like any other part of the body, the muscles over the shoulder blade is...

What is Patella Tendinopathy?

What is Patella Tendinopathy?

Front of knee pain Patella tendinopathy, also known as jumper's knee, is a common overuse injury that affects the patellar tendon, which connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia). This condition often occurs in athletes involved in sports that require...

Unlocking the Benefits of Running for Knee Health

Unlocking the Benefits of Running for Knee Health

Running is often hailed as a cornerstone of physical fitness, renowned for its ability to enhance cardiovascular health, boost mood, and aid in weight management. However, there's a common misconception that running may pose risks to joint health, particularly the...

7 Causes for Pain under Your Shoulder Blade 

7 Causes for Pain under Your Shoulder Blade 

We’ve all experienced a little shoulder blade pain here and there. However, sustained or frequent shoulder blade pain symptoms are not normal and may be a sign of underlying referred pain from the neck joints, shoulder muscles or...

Muscle Strain: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention

Muscle Strain: Symptoms, Causes, Prevention

What Is a Muscle Strain?  Muscle strain is an injury to the muscle because of strenuous activity  A muscle strain is an injury to the muscle because of strenuous activity. Almost anyone can put undue tension on muscles...

Low Back Pain Causes & Treatments

Low Back Pain Causes & Treatments

What is lower back pain? Low back pain is characterised by pain located between the lower rib margins and the buttock creases. It is extremely common and affecting most people worldwide regardless of gender, age, or even...

Causes of Wrist Pain

Causes of Wrist Pain

Unveiling the Common Causes of Wrist Pain in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide Wrist pain is a common complaint that affects individuals of all ages and lifestyles in Singapore. Certain occupations that involve repetitive wrist...

Improving outcomes for chronic low back pain: a fresh perspective

Improving outcomes for chronic low back pain: a fresh perspective

Key Points: The understanding of chronic low back pain (CLBP) is rapidly evolving thanks to advances in research and technology. Despite the progress, long-term self-management programs for CLBP have not shown consistent effectiveness. A patient-centred, long-term...