Elbow injuries are common in both adults and children. Early recognition and treatment of an elbow injury can reduce the risk of complications and later disability. Any serious injury of the elbow deserves medical attention.
If your elbow shows any of the following signs you may have a fracture or another injury that needs medical attention.
- Swelling of your elbow or in the area immediately above or below your elbow.
- Deformity of your elbow, or the areas near your elbow.
- Discoloration, such as bruising or redness of your elbow.
- Difficulty moving your elbow through its complete range of motion
Treatment of a broken elbow depends on the type of injury that you have suffered. Your treatment may be as simple as elevating your splinted arm, applying ice to any swollen areas, and taking pain relievers. Treatment can also include operations to repair bones, nerves, and blood vessels. Children and adults usually have different types of elbow injuries. They also heal in very different ways. For these reasons, different treatments are often used for adults and children with broken elbows.
- Sometimes an operation to repair your broken elbow is the best choice. This is particularly true if you have an open, or compound, elbow injury.
- An open elbow injury means that 1 or more of the bones at the elbow has come through the skin.
- Not only does the bone need to be put in place, but it also needs to be thoroughly cleaned so infection does not occur. This is best done in an operating room.
- Elbow injuries that damage nerves and blood vessels often need to be fixed in the operating room. Medical researchers have found that certain types of broken elbows heal better if they are repaired in the operating room. Your doctor will discuss the treatment options with you and help you make the best choice.