Elbow fractures are common injuries that often result from a fall onto an outstretched hand. The force of the fall can cause a bone, usually the ulna in the forearm, to break away from its attachment point in the elbow joint. The injury is fairly easy to recognize; symptoms include extreme pain in the elbow or forearm, swelling in the elbow, loss of sensation in the hand, and an inability to fully straighten the arm.
If an elbow fracture is suspected, it is important to seek medical care right away. A delay in treatment can increase the risk of lasting damage.
Types of Elbow Fractures
During the diagnostic process, a physician will consider several aspects of the fracture to determine its type, which may be a:
- Supracondylar fracture – A break in the upper arm bone (humerus) at its narrowest point just above the elbow
- Lateral condylar fracture – A break in the lower humerus near the elbow
- Medial epicondylar avulsion fracture – A break inside the bony protrusion (epicondyle) on the pinky side of the elbow
- Forearm fracture – A break in one or both of the forearm bones (radius and ulna)
- Monteggia fracture – A dislocation of the radial head from the elbow joint
- Open fracture – A broken bone that has punctured the skin
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