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Home :: Elbow Fracture, Lower Humerus

Elbow Fracture, Lower Humerus

A complete or incomplete break in the lower end of the humerus at the elbow joint.

BODY PARTS INVOLVED

  • Lower end of the humerus (upper arm bone).
  • Elbow joint.
  • Soft tissue surrounding the fracture site, including nerves, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, cartilage and muscles.

Causes

  • Direct blow to the elbow.
  • Indirect stress due to falling on an outstretched hand with the elbow locked.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Severe elbow and arm pain at the time of injury.
  • Swelling around the fracture.
  • Visible deformity if the fracture is complete and bone fragments separate enough to distort normal body contours.
  • Tenderness to the touch.
  • Numbness or coldness in the elbow, lower arm and hand, if the blood supply is impaired.

Treatment

Follow your doctor's instructions. These instructions are supplemental.

First Aid

  • Keep the person warm with blankets to decrease the possibility of shock.
  • Cut away clothing if possible, but don't move the injured area to do so
  • Follow the R.I.C.E. plan (rest, ice, compression and elevation) whenever you have swelling, warmth or pain in your elbow.

Continuing Care

  • Immobilization will be necessary, usually with rigid splints around the elbow and wrist.
  • After 48 hours, localized heat promotes healing by increasing blood circulation in the injured area .Use a heat lamp or a heating pad for 30 minutes at a time so heat can penetrate the splints.
  • After the splints are removed,use frequent ice massage. Fill a large Styrofoam cup with water and freeze. Tear a small amount of foam from the top so Ice protrudes. Massage firmly over the injured area in a circle about the size of a baseball. Do this for 15 minutes at a time, 3 or 4 times a day.
  • Apply heat instead of ice, if it feels better. Use heat lamps, hot soaks, hot showers, heating pads, or heat liniments and ointments.
  • Take whirlpool treatments, if available.

Home Diet

  • Drink only water before manipulation or surgery to treat the fracture. Solid food in your stomach makes vomiting while under anesthesia more hazardous.
  • During recovery, eat a well-balanced diet that includes extra protein, such as meat, fish, poultry, cheese, milk and eggs. Increase fiber and fluid intake to prevent constipation that may result from decreased activity.
Prevention
  • Build adequate muscle strength and achieve good conditioning prior to exercise athletic practice or competition. Increased muscle mass helps protect bones and underlying tissue.
  • Use appropriate protective equipment such as padded elbow pads for contact sports.

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