There are three bones that connect to make up what is commonly considered the elbow joint. There are other structures that link these bones, including: the trochlear notch of the ulna and the trochlea of the humerus, the head of the radius and the capitulum of the humerus.
When any of these bones become fractured close to the joint, it is considered an elbow injury. There are therefore several ways in which elbow fractures are described. If you are suffering from inflammation, pain or limited range of movement in an injured arm, a consultation with a specialist orthopedic surgeon is recommended.
Olecranon Elbow Fractures
The pointed end of the ulna is what most people recognize as the elbow, although this is just one part of the joint. Known as the olecranon bone, this knob-shaped structure is most at risk of suffering fractures.
The reason for this is that the olecranon bone is more exposed than other areas of the joint. For instance, in a fall or other type of accident, you may suffer direct trauma to the olecranon without injuring other bones. Fractures are graded from relatively minor solo injuries to multiple fractures. The severity of your fracture will determine whether a conservative or surgical treatment approach is most appropriate.
Distal Humerus Elbow Fractures
Your humerus, or upper arm bone, is connected to the elbow at the lower end. Trauma to this area can result in fractures. Those who have weaker bones resulting from illness, genetics or age are more likely to suffer from distal humerus elbow fractures.
Certain athletes are also susceptible to this type of injury. Conservative measures are usually not enough to repair the damage, so most patients will need surgery. At DOCS Health, we match patients with specialists in treatment areas specific to your medical condition or injury.
Radial Head Elbow Fractures
Trips and falls typically result in an individual instinctively outstretching the arms and hands, or falling on the forearms. The latter is more likely to result in a radial head elbow fracture. As a common elbow injury, radial head fractures account for roughly 20% of cases. Treatment is determined based on the severity of injury and whether there is a dislocation.
Your doctor will deliver treatment that is focused on achieving the best outcome, quickest recovery time and least invasive. There is a very real chance that you will need surgery. Conservative treatment can address simple fractures but more complex cases necessitate surgical repair.
Elbow Injury Symptoms
When you suffer an elbow injury, it is difficult to determine severity without consulting with a qualified orthopedic surgeon. X-ray and other imaging technologies can produce a clear picture of what is going on in the joint. Through comprehensive diagnosis, your doctor can recommend and deliver the most appropriate treatment for your needs.
Unless an elbow injury is incredibly severe, symptoms are fairly consistent among all types. Inflammation, pain, bruising, disfigurement and restricted movement of the joint may indicate a fracture. It is important to also note that in some cases, a serious elbow injury may not present with severe symptoms. If pain and discomfort intensify as the hours or days pass, it is time to have the damage assessed.
A fractured or dislocated elbow could suffer further damage if you do not seek medical attention. Your DOCS Health specialist can quickly ascertain the seriousness of an injury and begin your treatment plan.
If you have recently injured any area of the elbow and are suffering from painful or uncomfortable symptoms, we are here to provide excellent treatment. Call today so we can match you to an orthopedic surgeon with the experience and expertise to offer solutions.