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Elbow And Wrist Fractures

Elbow and wrist fractures are often caused by falls, sports injuries, and motor vehicle accidents. They can be treated with non-surgical interventions, but this is not always the case.

However, sometimes elbow and wrist fractures can be severe injuries that call for surgical intervention. An evaluation by a hand doctor can help determine the best course of treatment.

This article will discuss what you need to know about these common injuries, treatment options, and when surgery may be necessary.

What You Should Know About Elbow Fractures

An elbow fracture usually occurs at the tip of the elbow, called the olecranon.

Elbow fractures are often caused by falls or blunt force trauma. The fracture can be treated by surgical or non-surgical interventions dependent on the extent of the injury.

Symptoms of an elbow fracture include swelling, stiffness, bruising at the sight, pain, or a feeling like your elbow will "pop" out of the joint.

Your doctor will take a history and examine the fracture. The doctor may feel for areas of tenderness, evaluate your range of motion, check your pulse to determine if there is good blood flow to the hand, and note any numbness or tingling.

After the exam, imaging is ordered to determine the severity of the fracture. Tests include x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, or musculoskeletal ultrasounds. The doctor may determine which test to order based on the symptoms of the initial exam.

How to Treat Elbow Fractures

The severity of the injury determines treatment options. Your doctor may be able to treat the fracture non-surgically. If the fracture is not displaced and in the correct position, it can usually heal by casting, splinting, or sling.

However, surgery is often required to treat the elbow if the bone is displaced. The surgeon will move the bones back into the proper position and may use pins, screws, or plates to keep the bone in place.

What You Should Know About Wrist Fractures

Wrist fractures often are caused by falls or sports injuries. If not treated properly, they can cause complications which include:

  • Continued stiffness and disability. Physical therapy can often be helpful to learn exercises that help to help with healing and prevent disability.

  • Nerve or blood vessel damage. The wrist is adjacent to nerves and blood vessels. It can lead to chronic numbness and tingling or circulation issues.

  • Osteoarthritis, especially if the fracture extends into a joint. Some patients do not develop osteoarthritis until years after their injury.

To prevent wrist fractures, doctors suggest building strength with exercise, taking steps to reduce the risk of falls, and wearing proper equipment when participating in athletics.

How to Treat Wrist Fractures

The extent of the injury determines treatment for wrist fractures. Sometimes the doctor has to manipulate bones back into position through a method known as reduction.

You can reduce swelling and pain by keeping the hand at heart level as much as possible at the beginning. Usually, immobilization for some time to restrict the movement of the broken bone in the wrist is necessary. Over the counter, NSAIDs can help with any pain or swelling.

After the splint or cast is removed, physical therapy is recommended to help reduce stiffness and improve mobilization.

Surgery is necessary for severe fractures, including open fractures if loose bone fragments have affected the joint or the fracture extends into the joint. It may also be required if there is damage to surrounding ligaments, nerves, or blood vessels.

Your hand doctor will be able to determine the best treatment method for proper healing. It is essential to follow all instructions for the best outcome, whether non-surgical or surgical, for elbow and wrist fractures.

Find Orthopedics Near You - The best hand doctors at Pinnacle

It is best to see an orthopedic doctor for proper diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment when it comes to fractures.

At Pinnacle, our fellowship-trained physicians specialize in all areas of orthopedics, including fractures of the wrist and elbow. You can heal and get back to the activities you love with excellent orthopedic care.

We have several locations to make it convenient for our patients:

Do not hesitate to contact us today!

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.