Elbow Injuries

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Our elbow specialists at the Nexus Clinic are highly skilled in the management of both traumatic and degenerative conditions of the elbow, including the fixation of fractures and elbow replacement for painful conditions of the elbow.

Many injuries around the elbow involve the ligaments and tendons of the arm and are therefore only visible on more advanced imaging such as ultrasound or MRI.

When surgical procedures are necessary, we make sure you receive the most appropriate treatment and each patient is given a personalised rehabilitation programme to help them regain strength and flexibility as soon as possible.

ELBOW FRACTURES

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.
BICEPS TENDON RUPTURES AT THE ELBOW (DISTAL BICEPS)

Distal biceps rupture is when the tendon attaching the biceps muscle to the elbow is torn from the bone. This injury most commonly occurs in middle-aged men during an episode of heavy lifting.

Key Points — Diagnosis and Management

These points will be discussed in more detail when you meet your surgeon.

  • Distal biceps ruptures can be treated without surgery, but evidence suggests that this will result in permanent reduction of strength in elbow flexion (bending) and supination (twisting the arm as if using a screwdriver).
  • Surgery to repair the tendon restores the majority of strength and shape in the arm.
  • The most common risks of surgery include infection, nerve injury, elbow stiffness and failure of tendon healing. All of these are rare complications and the vast majority of patients do not experience them.
  • A stretch to the nerve supplying sensation to the thumb side of the forearm is very common and generally resolves by 3 months after surgery.
  • Surgery should ideally be performed within 2–3 weeks of the injury.
  • The device we use to attach the biceps tendon back to its original position is the Togglelok device.
  • We have produced a guide to help you make your decision between surgical and non-surgical treatment, which your surgeon will discuss with you. (Link to patient info sheet)

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 but can gently mobilise the elbow.
  • You will not be driving for 4–6 weeks.
  • You cannot do any heavy work or sport for 3 months.
  • The patient information sheet we have produced discusses the risks of surgery and your surgeon will go through these in more detail.
  • This is a safe, reliable and effective operation for over 90% of people.

Download Factsheet (.pdf):

Treatment Options: Distal Biceps Tendon Rupture

REFERRALS & ENQUIRIES

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