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Elbow Fractures

Expert hand therapy for relief from elbow fractures.

Elbow Fractures

Understanding Elbow Fractures

A Comprehensive Guide for Hand Therapy

Elbow fractures commonly occur from a fall, twisting of the arm or trauma. In this blog post, we’ll talk about the types of elbow fractures, the treatment options available, and how a Hand Therapist helps with your recovery. 

What is an Elbow Fracture?

An elbow fracture refers to a break in one or more of the bones that form the elbow joint. The elbow is composed of three bones: the humerus (upper arm bone), the radius, and the ulna (forearm bones). Fractures can occur in any of these bones and are classified based on their location and the nature of the break.

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Types of Elbow Fractures

  1. Distal Humerus Fractures: These occur at the lower end of the humerus and are more common in adults, often resulting from high-impact trauma.
  2. Olecranon Fractures: These involve the bony prominence of the ulna and usually occur from a direct blow or fall onto the elbow.
  3. Radial Head Fractures: These are common in adults and typically result from a fall on an outstretched arm, affecting the top part of the radius.
  4. Fracture-Dislocations: These involve a fracture combined with dislocation of the elbow joint. An example of this is a Monteggia fracture, which involves a dislocation of the radial head and fracture of the ulna.

Symptoms of an Elbow Fracture

Common symptoms of an elbow fracture include:

  • Severe pain and tenderness around the elbow
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Difficulty moving the elbow or forearm
  • Visible deformity in severe cases
  • Numbness or tingling in the fingers, indicating nerve involvement

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Services

We offer a wide range of hand therapy services to help you overcome any hand, wrist or arm injury. Treatment could include rehabilitation exercises to build strength and support, or a custom made splint or cast to help mend your condition.

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We offer a wide range of hand therapy services to help you overcome any hand, wrist or arm injury. Treatment could include rehabilitation exercises to build strength and support, or a custom made splint or cast to help mend your condition.

Specialist Physiotherapists

Looking after your hands is our highest priority. Our Certified Hand Therapist will tailor a treatment plan to your needs and lifestyle. We may need to refer you onto surgical advice or for x-rays or other scans should we need to have a clearer picture of your situation.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of an elbow fracture typically involves a physical examination and imaging tests. X-rays are the most common diagnostic tool used to determine the type and extent of the fracture. In some cases, a CT scan or MRI may be necessary to get a more detailed view of the injury.

Treatment Options

The treatment of elbow fractures depends on the severity and type of the fracture. Here are the common treatment approaches:

1

Non-Surgical Treatment

Elbow fractures that are small or nondisplaced can be treated without surgery. Small fractures may be treated with immobilisation using an elbow sling, cast or thermoplastic splint to keep the elbow in place as it heals.
2

Surgical Treatment

Large breaks or displaced elbow fractures require surgery to fix the broken bones. An open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) procedure involves realigning the broken bones and securing them with metal plates, screws, or pins. In some cases, an external frame or wire is used to hold the bones in place.

The Role of Hand Therapy in Elbow Fracture Rehabilitation

  1. Immobilisation: Depending on the severity of the fracture and what is recommended by your Surgeon, a Hand Therapist can apply an elbow cast, customised thermoplastic elbow splint or elbow sling to immobilise the elbow. This helps the fracture to heal in the right position.
  2. Range of Motion exercises: After immobilisation, the elbow may become stiff. Hand therapists use specific exercises to gently restore the range of motion in the elbow joint.
  3. Strengthening Muscles: Fractures and subsequent immobilisation can lead to muscle weakness. Hand therapists design strengthening exercises to rebuild muscle strength and endurance.
  4. Scar Management: Post-surgical scars can limit movement. Hand therapists use techniques such as scar massage and stretching to improve flexibility and reduce scar tissue formation.
  5. Edema Control: Swelling can persist after a fracture. Hand therapists use techniques like manual edema mobilisation and compression to reduce swelling.
  6. Functional Training: Hand therapy also focuses on restoring the ability to perform daily activities. Therapists may simulate real-life tasks to ensure patients regain their functional independence. 

Elbow fractures are complex injuries that require comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation. Hand therapy plays a vital role in ensuring that patients regain full function and mobility in their arm. If you need hand physiotherapy treatment for a broken elbow or dislocated elbow, get in touch with one of our Sydney hand therapy clinics today. 

The Hand Physio Clinic 

The Hand Physio Clinic 

The Hand Physio Clinic 

The Hand Physio Clinic 

The Hand Physio Clinic 

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