Broken Elbow (cont.)
Broken Elbow Prognosis
The elbow is a very complex joint. Recovery of the elbow after it is broken
depends on age and medical condition at the time of injury, as well as the type
Certain types of elbow injuries are associated with particular types of
problems as they heal. Children tend to heal better than adults.
Some of common problems with broken elbows include:
- Infection: Open injuries - when one of the elbow bones comes through the
skin-have a higher infection risk. Bacteria can enter the bone or joint and
- Stiffness: Many elbow injuries result in elbow stiffness. The injured elbow may
not flex, extend, or turn as much as it once did. This usually is more common in
adults than in children.
A broken bone that does not grow back together is called nonunion. Nonunion of a
broken elbow can be treated by replacing the elbow with an artificial joint or
by bone grafting. Bone grafting involves placing additional bone around the area
of the nonunion.
- Malunion: Malunion occurs when healing bones grow back together in an abnormal way. The
bone may be bent or twisted. An operation may be required to fix this problem.
bone growth: A broken bone repairs itself by forming new bone. As a broken elbow
heals, this new bone may form in areas where bone does not usually grow.
- Arthritis: Arthritis literally means joint inflammation. After a severe injury,
people can develop a type of arthritis that may make a joint painful and stiff.
This may worsen with cold weather or overuse.
damage: The three nerves that run through the elbow can be cut, contused, kinked, or
pulled in an elbow injury. The resulting nerve damage may be temporary or
permanent. Swelling after an elbow injury can press on nerves causing damage.
problems: Doctors sometimes repair broken elbows with wires, pins, screws,
plates, and other pieces of hardware. If any of this hardware moves, it may
cause pain or unsightly bumps under the skin. If this occurs, the hardware may
need to be removed.
vessel damage: A large artery runs very near the elbow joint to supply blood to
the forearm, wrist, and hand. Certain elbow injures may cut or kink this artery.
Sometimes resetting the broken elbow will relieve pressure on the artery.
Sometimes patients may need an operation to speed recovery.
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