What is elbow fracture?

Elbow Fracture
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Broken radial head of the elbow: Overview

The radius is one of the two long bones in your lower arm. The radial head is the small part of this bone near the elbow. This bone may break (fracture) during sports or an accident. It may happen when your arm is hit or is used to protect you in a fall.

Fractures can range from a small, hairline crack to a bone that is broken into two or more pieces. Your treatment depends on how bad the break is.

Your doctor may have put your arm in a cast or splint. This will allow your elbow to heal or will keep it stable until you see another doctor. You also might wear a sling to help support your arm.

It may take weeks or months for your elbow to heal. You can help it heal with some care at home.

You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.

You may have had a sedative to help you relax. You may be unsteady after having sedation. It can take a few hours for the medicine's effects to wear off. Common side effects of sedation include nausea, vomiting, and feeling sleepy or tired.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

How can you care for your child who has a broken elbow?

  • Follow the cast care instructions the doctor gives you. If your child has a splint, do not take it off unless the doctor tells you to.
  • Be safe with medicines. Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • Help your child prop up the arm on pillows when your child sits or lies down in the first few days after the injury. Keep the elbow higher than the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Help your child follow instructions for exercises to keep the arm strong.
  • Have your child wiggle their fingers and wrist often to reduce swelling and stiffness.

Broken radial head of the elbow: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You are very sleepy and you have trouble waking up.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse pain.
  • Your hand or fingers are cool or pale or change color.
  • Your cast or splint feels too tight.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your hand or fingers.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.
  • You have problems with your cast or splint.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.

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