Elbow Fracture



This injury is caused by trauma from:

  • Falling directly on the elbow
  • A direct blow to the elbow
  • Falling on an outstretched arm
  • A motor vehicle accident

Risk Factors

The risk of fracture is higher in those with:

  • Having a health problem that may result in falls, such as weak muscles
  • Playing some sports, such as football, hockey, wrestling, or gymnastics



Symptoms may be:

  • Pain that is worse with movement
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Problems moving the arm
  • Numbness in the fingers, hand, or arm
  • A change in the way the elbow looks


The doctor will ask about your symptoms, past health, and how the injury happened. Images may be taken with:

  • X-rays—can show breaks in the bone
  • CT scan—can show more details on bones and soft tissue changes



Bones take about 8 to 10 weeks to fully heal. Treatment will help to manage pain and support the bone as it heals. This may include:

  • Medicine to ease pain
  • A cast, splint, or sling to keep the elbow in place as it heals
  • Exercises to help with strength and range of motion

Children's bones are still growing. A child with a fracture may need to be checked more often to make sure the bone heals well and keeps growing.

Putting Bones Back In Place

Some fractures cause pieces of bone to come apart. These pieces will need to be put back into place. This may be done:

  • Without surgery—medicine will decrease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into place. A cast or other device will help keep bones in place.
  • With surgery—cuts will be made in the skin to reach the bones. Pins, wires, plates, or screws will be used to connect broken sections of bone. Tendons or ligaments may also need to be repaired.


Most fractures are due to accidents. Healthy muscles may help to prevent more severe injuries.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.