If you have ever broken your elbow, you know that the recovery process can be long and frustrating. It is important to follow the doctor’s orders closely in order to ensure a full and speedy recovery. In this blog post, we will outline the steps that you need to take in order to recover from a broken elbow. We will also provide some tips on how to make the process less painful and more comfortable.
Understanding Broken Elbow Recovery
Most broken elbows occur as a result of a fall onto an outstretched arm. The most common type of break is called an olecranon fracture, which is a break in the bone at the tip of the elbow. Other types of elbow fractures include radial head fractures, coronoid process fractures, and ulnar shaft fractures.
A broken elbow is typically diagnosed based on a physical examination and a review of the patient’s medical history. X-rays will also be taken to confirm the diagnosis.
Are There Any Broken Elbow Types?
There are three main types of broken elbows, which are classified based on the location of the break:
1. Proximal humerus fracture: This type of fracture occurs in the upper arm near the shoulder.
2. Olecranon fracture: This type of fracture occurs at the elbow joint, specifically at the bony protrusion at the back of the elbow (the olecranon).
3. Radial head fracture: This type of fracture occurs at the end of the radius bone, which is one of the two bones in the forearm.
How Is a Broken Elbow Recover?
The recovery for a broken elbow will vary depending on the type and severity of the injury. In most cases, the goal of treatment is to reduce pain and swelling, stabilize the elbow joint, and protect the injured arm while it heals.
There are treatments for a broken elbow may include:
- Immobilization: The arm will be placed in a sling to keep it from moving.
- Pain relief: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, may be recommended.
- After the pain and swelling have gone down, you will need to begin working on regaining the range of motion in your elbow. Prescription pain medication may also be necessary.
- Ice: Applying ice to the injured elbow can help reduce pain and swelling.
- Heat: Applying heat to the injured elbow may also help reduce pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy: Exercises and stretches designed to improve range of motion and strength may be recommended.
- Range of motion exercises: These exercises will help you regain movement in your elbow.For example, you may need to do bending and straightening exercises.
- Strengthening exercises: These exercises will help you regain strength in your elbow and forearm. For example, you may need to do bicep curls or tricep extensions.
- Ultrasound therapy: This therapy uses sound waves to reduce pain and swelling.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): This therapy uses low-voltage electricity to reduce pain.
- Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapy may also be necessary to help with activities of daily living. An occupational therapist can help you regain strength and range of motion in your elbow. They will also provide you with exercises to improve your ability to perform activities of daily living.
- Splint: A splint may also be used to treat a broken elbow. The splint will need to be worn for two to three weeks. For example, you may need to wear a splint when you sleep or during activities that put stress on the elbow joint.
This is the most common treatment option for a broken elbow. The surgeon will put the bones back in place and then hold them together with metal plates and screws. Recovery time is usually around six to eight weeks.
Treatments for a broken elbow may include:
1. Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF): This type of surgery is performed to realign the bones and stabilize them with metal screws, wires, or plates.
2. Cast: In some cases, a cast may be all that is necessary to treat a broken elbow. The cast will need to be worn for six to eight weeks. For instance, if the break is a simple fracture, the bones may not need to be moved back into place.
2. Joint replacement: In some cases, the elbow joint may need to be replaced with an artificial joint.
3. Arthroscopic surgery: This minimally invasive surgery is used to repair torn ligaments or tendons around the elbow joint.
What Is the Recovery Time for a Broken Elbow?
The recovery time for a broken elbow will vary depending on the type and severity of the injury, as well as the treatment method. For instance, a simple break may only require immobilization for six weeks, while a more complex injury may need up to 12 weeks of recovery time. Most people will need to wear a splint or sling for four to six weeks. Physical therapy may also be necessary. In some cases, it may take up to three months for the elbow to heal completely. Many normal activities can resume after approximately four months, but full healing may take one year or more.
Main Phases Of Healing
There are three main phases of healing that you will go through during your recovery from a broken elbow.
- The first phase is the inflammatory phase, which begins immediately after the injury and lasts for three to five days. During this phase, your body will be working to reduce swelling and pain. You will likely be prescribed medication, such as ibuprofen, to help with these symptoms.
- The second phase is the repair phase, which begins around day six and lasts for two to four weeks. During this phase, your body will begin to repair the broken bone. This process is known as ossification, and it involves the formation of new bone tissue.
- The third and final phase is the remodeling phase, which can last for several months. During this phase, your body will continue to repair the broken bone and make it stronger. This process is known as remodeling, and it helps the bone heal properly so that it can support the weight of your body and withstand stress.
If you have a broken elbow, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment and recovery. With proper care, most people make a full recovery and are able to return to their normal activities.
How Can I Prevent a Broken Elbow?
There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of sustaining a broken elbow, such as:
1. Wearing proper protective gear: This is especially important if you participate in contact sports, such as football or hockey.
2. Avoiding falls: Try to avoid falling onto your outstretched arm.
3. Strengthening your muscles: Strong muscles can help support your joints and reduce the risk of injury.
4. Taking breaks: If you participate in activities that put stress on your elbows, such as tennis or golf, be sure to take breaks to rest your arm.
5. Wearing comfortable shoes: Wearing shoes that fit well and provide support can help reduce the risk of falls.
These are the preventive measure that you can take to reduce the risk of a broken elbow.
It may be concluded that broken elbow recovery may vary depending on the severity of the injury. Treatment may range from conservative management with ice, rest, and elevation to surgical intervention. Physical therapy will play an important role in regaining range of motion and strength following either type of treatment. It is important to follow your doctor’s orders and those of your physical therapist to ensure a successful recovery.
Physical Therapy help patients recover from pain. If you’re experiencing Back pain, Shoulder pain, Knee pain, Neck pain, Elbow pain, Hip pain, or Arthritis pain, a physical therapist at MantraCare can help: Book a physiotherapy session.