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Your Options for Elbow Fracture Surgery


Elbow surgery for fractures may be necessary when one or more of the three bones of the elbow joint breaks. The goal is to realign the broken bones, and preserve elbow function and the ability to fully straighten your joint.

At Dignity Health, our physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons understand how elbow pain can affect all parts of your quality of life. Call 888.653.1839 or Find a Doctor online who specializes in elbow fracture surgery in the Bay Area to get back on the road to full activity. Our goal is to help you return to the healthy lifestyle you are accustomed to through our orthopedic treatments and procedures.

When is Elbow Surgery for Fractures Necessary?

Simple elbow fractures — when the bone is just barely out of place — often heal with casting or splinting. However, your doctor may recommend surgery for a broken elbow if:

  • Fractured bones have broken through the skin (called a compound or open fracture)
  • Fractured bones are out of place
  • The elbow joint didn't heal properly after casting or splinting

Open Reduction & Closed Reduction Elbow Surgery in the Bay Area

Elbow fracture surgery uses either an open or closed reduction method. During an open reduction, your surgeon realigns the broken bones through an incision and places screws, pins, or plates inside. You will need general anesthesia for this type of surgery. 

For a closed reduction, your surgeon insert pins through your skin into the bones to realign them and hold them in place. Sometimes closed reductions only require regional anesthesia to numb the elbow and surrounding arm.

Recovering After Broken Elbow Surgery

It can take a long time to recover from a broken elbow, especially if you need surgery. If you had an open reduction procedure, you will need to wear a splint or cast on your elbow while it heals. You will need to avoid lifting heavy objects for six to 12 weeks. Full recovery can take a year or more. 

Physical therapy is an important part of your recovery process. Strengthening and range-of-motion exercises will be essential to regain full use of your elbow. Dignity Health offers physical therapy at all four of our Bay Area hospitals — Saint Francis Memorial Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco, Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City and Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz..

Talk to your doctor and physical therapist about your expectations and goals for recovery. For most people, elbow function continues to improve over time.

At Dignity Health, our board-certified surgeons perform elbow fracture surgery in the Bay Area, including San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Redwood City.