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Broken Elbow (cont.)

Broken Elbow Symptoms

If the elbow shows any of the following signs, a person may have a fracture, sprained elbow, or another injury that needs medical attention:

  • Swelling of the elbow or in the area immediately above or below the elbow
  • Deformity of the elbow or the areas near the elbow
  • Discoloration, bruising, or redness of the elbow
  • Difficulty moving the elbow through its complete range of motion
    • Flexion and extension: Individuals should be able to bend their elbow so that they can touch the shoulder with the fingertips. Patients also should be able to fully straighten their arm. If they cannot do this, it may be a sign of a supracondylar fracture.
    • Inward and outward rotation: When holding the upper arm at the side with the elbow flexed (bent) at 90 degrees, people should be able to rotate their hand outward so that the palm faces the ceiling. In this same position, a person should be able to rotate his or her hand inward so that the palm faces the floor. If the person cannot do this, it may be a sign of a radial head fracture.
  • Numbness, decreased sensation, or a cool sensation of the forearm, hand, or fingers
    • Three major nerves, 1) the median, 2) radial, and 3) ulnar nerves travel through the elbow. A serious injury may damage one or more of these nerves.
    • Many blood vessels also pass through the elbow. These important vessels may become injured or compressed when trauma or swelling occurs in the elbow.
  • A cut, or open wound, on the elbow after a traumatic injury
  • Severe pain after an elbow injury
  • A "tight sensation" in the area of the elbow or forearm
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/31/2014

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