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Broken Elbow

Broken Elbow Treatment Self-Care at Home

Seek medical attention if you think you have broken your elbow. There is no home care. While seeking medical attention, however, here are some first aid tips that are important to remember:

  • If you have an open wound, cover it with a clean bandage. If you are bleeding, apply firm pressure and raise your arm.
  • Apply an ice pack or cool compress to the swollen area.
  • Call for emergency help or get someone to call for emergency help immediately.
  • If emergency help is not available immediately, or if you are transporting a person with a suspected broken elbow, immobilize the fracture as much as possible. Even a cardboard box, cut to the right size and shape, can be used as a splint.
  • Do not attempt to straighten a broken bone. Allow a doctor or trained person to do that.
  • Do not attempt to push a broken bone back into place if it is sticking out of the skin. Adjusting an arm that appears deformed may worsen the damage to bones or other structures within the elbow.

Medical Treatment

Treatment of a broken elbow depends on the type of injury that you have suffered. Your treatment may be as simple as elevating your splinted arm, applying ice to any swollen areas, and taking pain relievers. Treatment can also include operations to repair bones, nerves, and blood vessels. Children and adults usually have different types of elbow injuries. They also heal in very different ways. For these reasons, different treatments are often used for adults and children with broken elbows.

Medications

  • A wide variety of pain relievers are available.
    • Oral medications are usually used for mild pain.
    • Injections, either into a muscle or into a vein (by IV), are used for moderate to severe pain.
  • Medication can be put directly into the elbow joint to relieve pain or can be given by injection or IV.
    • If your elbow is dislocated or broken and needs to be reset, medications also can be used to help this process.
    • These medications relieve pain extremely well and although they may cause sedation (sleepiness), they allow muscles to relax and help a great deal while the doctor works on the elbow.
    • After receiving these medications and having their elbow reset, many people awaken to find their elbow has been repaired and splinted.

Surgery

Sometimes an operation to repair your broken elbow is the best choice. This is particularly true if you have an open, or compound, elbow injury.

    • An open elbow injury means that 1 or more of the bones at the elbow has come through the skin.
    • Not only does the bone need to be put in place, but it also needs to be thoroughly cleaned so infection does not occur. This is best done in an operating room.

Elbow injuries that damage nerves and blood vessels often need to be fixed in the operating room. Medical researchers have found that certain types of broken elbows heal better if they are repaired in the operating room. Your doctor will discuss the treatment options with you and help you make the best choice.

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

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