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Elbow Joint and Elbow Fractures

The best care

Fractures of the elbow can be somewhat complicated secondary to the heterogeneous pattern of injuries, the complexity of the repair required and the associated soft tissue injuries that accompany these fractures. The elbow joint is comprised of the distal humerus (upper arm bone) and the proximal top of the forearm bones (the radius and ulna).  Normal range of motion for the elbow is from 0 (arm straight out) to 150 degrees  of flexion with approximately 80 degrees of pronation and supination of the forearm (elbow at side with palm up and palm down).  Functional range of motion (range of motion required for activities of daily living,) is defined as 30 to 130 degrees with only 50 degrees of pronation and supination. Fractures of the elbow are often treated with surgical intervention with either plates or screws through a single meticulous incision to the posterior aspect (or back) of the elbow joint.  Occoasionally, dual incisions are required, both to the medial and lateral (inner and outer) aspect of certain types of fractures and fracture patterns, however your surgeon will discuss this with you and the most appropriate treatment option.  With particular fractures at the elbow, ligamentous instability is encountered and requires fixation with or without augmentation using cadaver ligaments and tendons to aid in the repair.  Fractures of the elbow, if not treated conservatively, are treated with plates and screws, and if required, an external fixation device (erector set with pins and bars outside the joint and extremity to stabilize the limb).   Each fracture and person is different and you should discuss all your treatment options with your physician.

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