Fractured Elbow: Treatment, Symptoms and Causes

Would I Qualify for Free Private Treatment for a Fractured Elbow?

A fractured elbow is classed as a severe arm injury which typically results in a patient being unable to use an affected arm for anything from 6 to 8 weeks. Our fractured elbow guide helps educate you on the causes, signs and treatment associated with this type of injury and the steps you can take to aid your recovery.

This guide provides information on the physiology of your elbow, the common causes of elbow fractures, as well as diagnostic and treatment procedures. This article explains the steps you can take to help speed up your recovery, including what free help private medical help may be available in your local area. Click on a section below for more detailed information on fractured elbows:

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What is a Fractured Elbow?

Fractured elbow

Fractured elbow

As one of the human body’s most intricate joints, a fractured elbow could include a break in either the humerus, ulna or radius. A fractured elbow may also be diagnosed when the single ligament that keeps the elbow together is completely torn.

What are the Key Facts to a Fractured Elbow?

The elbow is one of the most complex joints in the human body, consisting of the humerus (the bone that runs from the shoulder) and the ulna and radius which run upwards from your hand. Tough ligaments hold all of these bones together.

As a complex joint, the elbow can move in three ways by bending, extending and rotating, all facilitated by your triceps and bicep muscles. Lots of small muscles work to enable the elbow’s finer rotations and movements.

A fractured elbow is a relatively uncommon injury because the joint is extremely strong, and fractures of the elbow usually involve one of the three bones snapping away from the joint, rather than a break in the joint itself. With this said, the risk of suffering a fractured elbow tends to increase with age.

What are the Common Causes of a Fractured Elbow?

There are several ways that you could sustain a fractured elbow, although the most common cause is through acute trauma or stress. A fractured elbow in a child, for example, is likely to be caused by a sudden trauma such as falling off a climbing frame or bicycle.

In adults, the most common cause of a fractured elbow is a fall or a trip, when you outstretch your arms in an attempt to break the fall. Other common causes include the following:

  • Road traffic accidents are also a major cause of fractured elbows where the elbow is put under severe trauma
  • Hairline elbow fractures are typically caused overuse, usually from a sports injury

What are the Symptoms Associated with a Fractured Elbow?

A fractured elbow is a major and very painful injury. The most common symptoms and signs could include the following:

  • Severe pain in the elbow joint itself with feelings of tenderness in the area of the arm surrounding the elbow
  • Bruising of the elbow joint
  • Limited motion or complete immobility of the elbow
  • In a severe fractured elbow injury, the arm may become misshapen
  • The sounds of a “snap” or a “pop” when the injury occurs
  • An open wound close to the elbow
  • Unusual sensations, such as numbness, pins and needles in the elbow itself or the hands, fingers and lower arm
  • Feeling faint, nauseous or in shock

It is worth noting that fractured elbow symptoms may be less obvious in hairline fractures. If you suspect a child has a fractured elbow injury, you should seek emergency medical attention as soon as possible. Potential symptoms of a fractured elbow in a child typically include:

  • Difficulty or an inability to straighten or bend the affected arm
  • Swelling or bruising on the injured arm around the elbow
  • Pain and discomfort around the joint of the elbow

Visit your local Accident and Emergency centre or dial 999 if you notice any of these symptoms in a child following an accident or injury.

Many children’s activities can make the elbow susceptible to injury. Furthermore, there are many areas of bone that are still actively growing in a child’s elbow joints making them more vulnerable to damage. Children who have suffered an injury to their elbow should always be assessed by a doctor.

To find out whether you would qualify for free private medical care and free private physiotherapy aftercare for a fractured elbow, please contact one of our health experts today.

How is a Fractured Elbow Diagnosed?

A doctor would be able to accurately diagnose a fractured elbow by examining the injury before carrying out specific tests. This would determine the extent of the damage and whether you have a fractured elbow radius. Once a diagnosis is complete, a doctor would establish the severity and complexity of your injury.

For compound, complex or even simple elbow fractures the following tests would be carried out:

  • An x-ray of your injured elbow to determine the extent of the break and the course of action needed
  • An MRI scan to establish if you have suffered a hairline elbow fracture

What Treatments are Available for a Fractured Elbow?

The treatment for a fractured elbow injury depends on the extent of the break and whether the patient is an adult or a child. A cast will always be applied for a fractured elbow in a child as children are less likely to keep an injured arm still. This course of treatment helps to speed up a fractured elbow recovery time.

It is worth noting that casts are typically applied for a more severe fractured elbow in adults too. However, should you have suffered a hairline or simple fracture to your elbow, you may find that you do not have to wear a cast during the healing process but rather your arm would be placed in a sling.

Following your initial treatment, you would typically be prescribed a course of strong painkillers to ease any discomfort you experience in the first few days after being discharged from hospital. You would also be advised on how to care for elbow fractures and dislocations once you are home.

For more serious fractured elbow injuries realignment of affected bones is often needed for your injury to properly heal. This procedure is usually carried out in one of the following two ways:

  • For less serious fractures, a doctor will manually correct the bones of the elbow before applying a cast. In a case such as this, fractured elbow surgery is not needed
  • For more severe and complex fractured elbow injuries, surgical intervention may be required to align the bones with surgical rods, pins and screws. A cast would be applied following surgery and the medical devices taken out once your injury has nearly healed

When Should I Seek Medical Attention for a Fractured Elbow?

If you are asking yourself “Have I fractured my elbow?” then you need to seek medical attention immediately by visiting your nearest Accident and Emergency Department. On your way to the hospital, there are several effective measures you can take to reduce the risk of doing any further damage to your fractured elbow. These include:

  • Immobilising your injured arm with a home-made sling. If you are travelling to hospital with a child suffering from a suspected fractured elbow, you may want to ask a friend or a relative to drive so that you can keep the child calm and still during the journey
  • Applying pressure with surgical pads or cotton wool to any open or bleeding wounds would help stem the bleeding
  • Keeping your fractured elbow raised, where possible. If the pain is too severe to raise it, apply an ice pack to help reduce swelling and ease discomfort
  • Do not consume any food or drink on your journey to hospital, in case you need to undergo immediate fractured elbow surgery

Could I Qualify for Free Orthopaedic Assessment for a Fractured Elbow?

The course of fractured elbow NHS treatment includes undergoing a set of x-rays, or if you have a suffered a hairline fracture, an MRI scan. Following the results of your x-ray or scan, a doctor would compile a Broken Bone Report, which will detail the nature and extent of the injury and the treatment needed to aid your fractured elbow recovery process. You can ask for a copy of this report which you are entitled to,

You could qualify for further free treatment for a fractured elbow or a free expert orthopaedic assessment of a broken bone report. This cost-free expert advice could be helpful in accelerating your fractured elbow recovery time and may also include advice on how you can further encourage your injury to heal, which includes being shown specialist fractured elbow rehabilitation exercises. Call us today, and we can tell you straight away if free treatment for a fractured elbow is available in your local area.

What Free Private Treatment Could I Get For a Fractured Elbow?

Fractured elbow treatment

Fractured elbow treatment

Free private treatment for a fractured elbow, such as fractured elbow physical therapy may help you to recover faster and possibly, better. To find out what sort of treatment is available in your area, please speak to one of our health experts today.

You may also find that various free health care services for fractured elbows are available in your area but this depends on where you live. By giving our friendly team a quick phone call, you can find out in minutes what free treatment, care and physiotherapy is available to you.

How Should I Care for My Fractured Elbow Once Home?

Unlike some other fractures, the cast applied to a severe elbow fracture would need to remain in place until the injury has fully mended, which, in some cases can take up to two months or more. You can help to reduce your fractured elbow healing time by following the tips below once you are allowed home:

  • Keep your elbow as still as possible. Any unnecessary movement of your fractured elbow is likely to lengthen the amount of time it will take to heal
  • Try not to put your fractured elbow under any strain or pressure. While a fractured elbow cast acts as good protection, there is still room inside the cast for your elbow to flex, so any strain, stress or pressure may result in a delay in the healing process. This is even more important if you have a sling only for your fractured elbow rather than a cast

Speak to your doctor or medical team about fractured elbow rehabilitation exercises. You may be able to get effective advice on what exercises you can undertake to look after your fractured elbow when your cast is removed. Many patients require elbow fracture physiotherapy exercises to rebuild and redevelop muscle strength in the arm that has been injured.

Could I Qualify for any Other Effective Free Treatment for a Fractured Elbow?

As well as fractured elbow NHS treatment, you may be entitled to further treatment in your area to aid your recovery. You may be entitled to a free sling, for example, to help immobilise your injured arm during your recovery process.

To find out what free fractured elbow treatments are available in your area and whether you would qualify to receive them, please speak to one of our health experts today.

Should I Keep Follow Up Appointments for a Fractured Elbow?

During your recovery from a fractured elbow injury, you should attend any follow-up hospital appointments because these check-ups ensure that your fractured elbow is healing as it should and that no complications are developing.

How Long is the Healing Process for a Fractured Elbow?

It can take around 8 weeks for the bones of a fractured elbow to mend and heal, and you may need further therapy because the chances are that your injured arm is likely to have lost strength and muscle tone because of it being kept immobile for so long. With this said, the majority of fractured elbow patients make a complete recovery within 3 months providing their injury was correctly diagnoses and they responded well to the treatment that was set in place following surgery.

Can I Recover Safer and Possibly Faster From a Fractured Elbow?

You are likely to need fractured elbow physical therapy following your initial treatment or surgery. We may be able to arrange free private treatment, physiotherapy and medical aids which may help speed up the healing process, reducing how long off work you take for your fractured elbow. By getting in touch with us now, we will be able to check what is available in your area.

Is the Prognosis for a Fractured Elbow Good or Bad?

As the elbow is such an intricate joint, the prognosis for a fractured elbow depends on several factors, including the following:

  • Your age
  • General overall health
  • The severity and complexity of the injury

With this said, a radius fractured elbow in an elderly patient may take longer to heal than a fractured elbow in a child.

With no complications during the recovery process, most patients will make a complete recovery from a fractured elbow, regaining full use of their arm, within 3 months of the injury taking place providing the injury was correctly diagnosed and treated.

Are There Any Complications Associated with a Fractured Elbow?

Complications associated with a fractured elbow are possible, and the most common are:

  • Nerve damage – sometimes, the anterior interosseous, median and radial nerves can suffer damage as a result of a fractured elbow These crucial nerves need to heal, so this kind of complication can result in a lengthier overall recovery time
  • Vascular restriction – this can occur when the bones of a fractured elbow prevent or affect blood flow through one of the arm’s major arteries. This kind of complication can result in swelling or numbness of the injured arm, and surgical treatment may be needed to rectify it

The most common long-term health impact of a fractured elbow injury is limited movement or pain when moving the elbow joint. People with limited elbow flexion may not be able to raise their arm as high as they could before the injury occurred and they may not be able to straighten their arm fully either.

As with most joint fractures, arthritis can occur following a fractured elbow injury. Scar tissue forms during the healing process, which wears away at the joint’s cartilage, potentially resulting in arthritis. Other problems could include the following:

  • Inadequate healing can result in parts of the broken bone becoming misaligned, which can have a negative impact on the cartilage
  • Elbow fractures can also result in torn ligaments, which can cause a bone to shift out of place, resulting in improper wear and tear of the cartilage

Simple cases of arthritis can be treated with medication and sometimes surgery.

Without adequate treatment, arthritis can have a significant impact on quality of life. It is important to seek an expert medical opinion if you suffer from any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the arm or elbow several months to years after a fractured elbow injury
  • Stiffness or limited motion in the elbow
  • Swelling in or around the elbow
  • Redness or feelings of heat in or around the elbow
  • A cracking or crunching noise or sensation when using the elbow use
  • Painful and/or limited use of the elbow

I Think My Doctor Missed Something When Treating My Fractured Elbow, What Should I Do?

If you have suffered a fractured elbow injury and you are concerned that you have received inadequate treatment, educating yourself on your injury is essential. By learning as much as you can about fractured elbows, how the injury should be diagnosed and treated, helps confirm any fears you may have. The website links at the bottom of this article provide more comprehensive information and advice on fractured elbow injuries.

Call Us to Find Out More About Free Treatment, Physio and Care for a Fractured Elbow

If you have suffered a fractured elbow, contact us today to find out what further help you may be entitled to. We may be able to put you in touch with free private medical care that could speed up your recovery time from your injury.

If you would like to find out what free care, help and advice is available to you, get in touch with us now and we can help you straight away. Our phone lines are open 7 days a week from 9 pm to 11 pm, please call today on 020 3870 4868, one of our health experts is waiting to take your call.

Helpful Links

To find out more about elbow pain and how to cope with it, the following link provides useful information on the topic:

More about elbow and arm pain

If you suspect you have sustained a fractured elbow, the link below provides useful information on how to make an arm sling:

How to make an arm sling

If you suffered a serious elbow injury and would like to know how you can aid your recovery, the link below provides essential reading:

More about recovering from a serious elbow fracture