There are two bones in your forearm, the radius and ulna. They hinge with the humerus bone (this is the long bone located between the elbow and the shoulder) in your arm to form your elbow joint. Any of these bones may be fractured (broken) in a fall or injury to your elbow. Common parts of these bones which fracture at the elbow include:
- The distal humerus – Distal means further from the centre of the body. This forms the top part of the joint that helps us bend and straighten our arm.
- The radial head – (this is top part of the radius) is made entirely out of cartilage. It helps us turn our hand to face upwards and down wards (supination/pronation)
- Olecranon – this is the very top part of the ulna bone. It forms the bottom part of the joint which helps us straighten and bend our elbow.
Fractures to the elbow joint can be difficult to treat. The joint is very complex and prone to becoming very stiff. Usually a splint or sling is used to align and stabilise the fracture for bone healing. If your fracture is stable and does not need surgery it is advised to start gently moving your elbow immediately. Recent research has shown that the sooner movement is commenced post injury the better the outcome for the patient. Your therapist will help you determine when it is best to start moving your elbow and also advise you on whether you should consider seeking a specialist opinion.