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Broken Elbow

Broken Elbow Overview

Elbow injuries are common in both adults and children. Early recognition and treatment of a fractured elbow injury can reduce the risk of complications and later disability. Any serious injury of the elbow deserves medical attention.

The elbow is a complex joint formed by 3 bones:

  • The humerus is a single bone in the upper arm that runs from the shoulder to the elbow.
  • The radius and ulna, bones of the forearm run from the elbow to the wrist.
  • Ligaments, muscles, and tendons maintain the elbow's stability and allow joint movement.

A normal elbow joint allows these motions:

  • Flexion or bending
  • Extension or straightening
  • Rotation, turning the palm up and down

Serious injuries, such as fractures (a bone break) and dislocations, can damage the bones and other structures of the elbow, resulting in problems with movement, blood vessel function, and nerve function. In children, fractures can affect the growth and development of the bones. This is because children have many bone "growth plates," a part of the bone where bone growth takes place. Bone growth continues throughout childhood; if one of these "growth plates" is involved in a fracture, it can affect bone development.

A fractured elbow is a break that involves one or more of the three arm bones where they work together to form the elbow joint.

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Fracture, Elbow »

Elbow fractures are commonly encountered in the acute care setting.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


Medical Dictionary