Elbow Fracture


Have you recently tried to break a fall by extending your hand? This action may have caused your elbow to dislocate due to the pressure, or worse, break the smaller bone (radius) in your forearm, which is a radial head fracture.

The bony tip of your elbow is known as the olecranon. This bone is one of three bones that make up the elbow joint. The three bones that make up our elbows are the distal humerus, radial head, and olecranon. Imagine your elbow as a hinge allowing you to bend and straighten your arm. The olecranon lacks protection from muscles or tissue since it’s located directly under your skin. Since the olecranon lacks protection, this makes it easy to break.

Around 20% of elbow injuries are radial head fractures, and if you have an elbow fracture you may have pain on the outside of your elbow, swelling, difficulty bending your elbow, or difficulty turning your hand from palm up to palm down. These fractures are more common in women than men and in people who are between the ages of 30 and 40 years old.

Elbow Fracture Nonsurgical Treatment Options

Depending on the severity of your fracture there are many different types of treatments. Less severe fractures require a sling or splint for anywhere between a few days to two weeks. We will slowly add elbow and wrist movement back into your normal activity. If you attempt movement too soon, then you may displace the fractured bone. Due to the way our elbows are made up, an elbow fracture can become a part of a more complex elbow injury. Our elbow bone can fracture slightly or break into many small pieces. Sometimes when our elbow fractures the broken bone can break through the skin — called an open fracture. This type of fracture is serious and needs to be evaluated immediately due to the likelihood of infection occurring in the wound and bone. Smaller fragments of a broken bone can be surgically removed if they prevent normal movement of your elbow.