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Broken Elbow

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Next Steps

Follow-up

It is extremely important to follow your doctor's medical advice exactly if you have a broken elbow. Once injured, the elbow is not a "forgiving" joint as it heals. To get the best possible result after you've broken your elbow, pay attention to the advice your doctor gives you. Keep all follow-up appointments with your doctor.

Following are some of the common things you may be told after your first visit for your broken elbow:

  • Use medications to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Elevate your arm to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Leave your splint or cast in place. Take care of your cast or splint.
  • Take antibiotics to treat infection, if prescribed, or to reduce the chance of getting an infection.
  • Return to the emergency department immediately if you notice any of the following:
    • Your hand is cold.
    • Your hand is pale or blue.
    • Your hand is numb, tingling, or "dead" feeling.
    • Your forearm hurts if you move your wrist, hand, or fingers.

Prevention

Most broken elbows stem from trauma-falls, sports injuries, motor vehicle crashes. The same common-sense things you would do ordinarily to prevent accidents will help prevent elbow injuries.

  • In automobiles
    • Obey the rules of the road and drive defensively.
    • Always wear your seat belts while driving and as a passenger.
    • Don't drink alcohol and drive.
    • Don't drive a vehicle if you've taken medicines or drugs that may make you sleepy.
    • Children always should be in proper child restraint devices.
    • Don't drive with your arm propped on the window or hanging out of the car window.
  • At home
    • Remove household items that may cause you to trip and fall. Some common tripping hazards are power cords, small rugs, and footstools.
    • Wipe up spills and deal with any slick floors that might cause a trip and fall.
    • Try to keep walks and driveways ice-free in winter.
  • While exercising or playing sports
    • Don't exercise, practice, or participate if you are overly fatigued. Injuries tend to happen when you are tired.
    • Don't continue an activity if you are having elbow pain.
    • Always wear proper protective gear while playing sports.
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