Three bones make up the elbow: the humerus (which is part of the upper arm) and the radius and ulna (which make up the forearm). Fractures of each of these bones can involve the elbow directly or, during the injury, can be associated with other injuries to the ligaments around the elbow.
Key Points — Diagnosis and Management
These points will be discussed in more detail when you meet your surgeon.
- You will be offered immediate surgery if the elbow is dislocated or where nerves or blood vessels are affected.
- In other cases, the decision for surgery rests on a balance between the risks of surgery and the benefits of a more rapid rehabilitation. In these cases, the decision will be reached during consultations between the specialists and the patient.
- The elbow does not tolerate being in a cast for prolonged periods and stiffness is very common. Surgery allows the elbow to be moved sooner, and therefore allows faster recovery.
Key Points — Surgical Treatment
- Most people go home on the same or next day.
- You will have a general anaesthetic (you will be asleep).
- You will be in a sling for 2–3 weeks.
- You will not be driving for 4–6 weeks.
- You cannot do any heavy work or sport for 3 months.
- This is a safe, reliable and effective operation for 90% of people.
- Surgery may involve repairing tendons, fixation of bones with metal plates and screws or, rarely, replacement of the elbow. These options will be discussed with you in relation to your specific fracture.