Broken Bones of the Elbow

What is the difference between a broken bone and a fractured bone?

fractured bone is a broken bone. There is no difference.

What does it mean to have an elbow fracture?

The bones of the elbow can be broken in several different places.  Where it is broken, how badly it is broken, and position of the broken bone pieces are important when thinking about treatment.

What bones get broken in the elbow?

The three most commonly broken bones in the elbow are:

1. Olecranon

2. Radial Head

3. Distal humerus

Normal olecranon bone

Broken olecranon bone

Fixed olecranon bone

Normal radial head bone

Broken radial head bone

Fixed radial head bone

Normal distal humerus bone

Broken distal humerus bone

Fixed distal humerus bone

How can you tell if you have a broken bone in the elbow?

After an injury x-rays will be taken. Often additional imaging studies, such as a CT (computerized tomography) scan is performed to better see the position of the broken bone pieces. An MRI is usually not needed.

How are broken bones of the elbow treated?

There are some types of broken elbow bones that can be treated without surgery. With the correct therapy and precautions, treatment without surgery can have excellent results.  Other types of broken elbow bones may be better treated with surgery to increase the chance of the person doing well. 

Healing of a broken elbow bone usually takes about six weeks. This six week period begins on the day the broken bone occurred or the day of surgery.