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An elbow fracture is a broken bone in the elbow joint. While bones are strong and able to bend to some degree, an elbow fracture can happen when too much pressure is put on the bone. Elbow fractures may be partial or complete breaks. In some instances, a fractured elbow can involve crushed bones and bone fragments that push through the skin — an open fracture.
Elbow fractures may require emergency medical attention. In cases of serious injury or trauma, call 911.
The symptoms of an elbow fracture may include:
At the time of the injury, you may hear a snapping or grinding sound. If you have a radial fracture, the pain in your elbow is usually more intense when you rotate your palm up and down.
For a diagnosis of your elbow fracture symptoms, Find a Doctor at a Dignity Health hospital near you.
If you need to go to the ER, use our InQuicker online tool by selecting your estimated hospital arrival time and wait at home until your time to be seen.
The most common cause of an elbow fracture is blunt force trauma to the elbow. These injuries can happen during a car accident, a fall, or a sports injury. Repetitive motions (overuse) can also cause elbow fractures. Performing the same movements over a period of time can gradually lead to a hairline (stress) fracture. The most common type of elbow fracture in children and elderly adults takes place above the elbow. For adults, the most common is a radial fracture.
Treatment for an elbow fracture will depend on the extent of the break and your risk factors. Orthopedic doctors at Dignity Health Southern California will focus on allowing the bone(s) to heal and preventing future fractures from occurring. Initially, elbow fracture treatment may involve setting the bone and applying an arm splint or cast. More complex injuries may require elbow surgery to secure the bones with metal plates, screws, and pins.
The recovery period will depend on how serious the injury was and the type of treatment performed.
You can reduce your risk of elbow fracture by wearing protective elbow guards and padding. Talk to your doctor about other ways to prevent elbow injuries and improve your joint and bone health.
Dignity Health Southern California provides the latest nonsurgical treatment and minimally invasive surgery options for elbow fractures.