When one or more of the three bones of the elbow joint breaks, elbow surgery may be necessary. The goal of elbow surgery for fractures is to preserve elbow function, realign the broken bones, and regain the ability to fully straighten the joint.
If you need elbow fracture surgery in Northern California, the orthopedic team at Dignity Health North State can help through our expertise and personal care. Use our online tool to Find a Doctor who’s right for you.
When is Surgery Necessary for Elbow Fractures?
Simple fractures, where the bone is barely out of place, usually don’t require surgery. These fractures typically heal with splinting or casting.
An orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery for an elbow fracture if:
- The fractured bones are fully out of place
- You have an open or compound fracture — the fractured bones have broken through the skin
- The joint isn’t properly functioning after splinting or casting
What to Expect During Surgery for Elbow Fractures at Dignity Health North State
There are two types of surgery used for elbow fractures: open reduction and closed reduction.
In open reduction surgery, your doctor realigns the bones through an incision. Screws, pins, and plates are inserted into the bones to hold them in place and the incision is closed. Open reduction surgeries typically require general anesthesia. Your doctor will cast or splint your elbow to protect it while it heals. Your stitches will be removed two weeks after surgery.
In closed reduction surgery, your doctor will insert the pins through your skin into the realigned bones to hold them in place. Local anesthesia to numb your arm is often all that is required for closed reduction surgeries. After your procedure, you’ll wear a splint for one week, followed by a cast. Several weeks after the surgery, your doctor will remove the cast and pins.
Some surgeries for elbow fractures are outpatient, meaning you go home the same day. The extent of your surgery will determine whether or not you have a hospital stay.
Your doctor at Dignity Health will discuss the risks and benefits of your surgery options with you.
Recovery After Surgery for Elbow Fractures
Although full healing and recovery can take over a year, most people return to normal activities within a few months after elbow fracture surgery.
Your doctor will give you special exercises to strengthen and improve the range of motion of the elbow and forearm. These exercises are essential for recovery. Physical therapy may be necessary to regain full use of your elbow. Most people find their elbow function continues to improve over time.
At Dignity Health North State, we will be with you every step of the way when you need surgery for an elbow fracture. Our orthopedic team provides cutting-edge care with a focus on respect and humankindness.
Dignity Health North State provides open reduction and closed reduction surgery for elbow fractures in Mt. Shasta, Red Bluff, and Redding, CA.