Dr. Dharmapal G. K. The Best Orthopaedic Surgeon in Bengaluru

Treatment for Distal Humerus Fractures of the Elbow

Distal-Humerus-Fractures-of-the-Elbow

TREATMENT

While you are in the emergency room, your doctor will apply a splint (like a cast) to your elbow and give you a sling to help keep your elbow in position. Immediate treatment may also include:

  • Applying ice to reduce pain and swelling
  • Medications to relieve pain

Whether or not your fracture requires surgery will then be determined. Some distal humerus fractures can be treated without an operation, but this is rare.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Nonsurgical treatment may be recommended for stable fractures in which the pieces of bone are not out of place (displaced). It may also be recommended for patients who are at higher risk for surgical complications. For example, patients with severe osteoporosis or other medical conditions may not be able to tolerate surgery.

Your doctor will apply a splint or sling to hold the elbow in place during healing. During the healing process, your doctor will take frequent x-rays to make sure the bone has not shifted out of place.

Splints are typically worn for 6 weeks before supervised motion is started. If the fracture shifts out of position during this time, you may need surgery to put the bones back together.

 
Patient wearing an elbow splint

(Left) The doctor will apply a splint that runs from near your shoulder all the way to your hand. (Right) An elastic bandage is applied to help keep the splint in place.

Surgical Treatment

Surgery is usually required for distal humerus fractures in which:

  • The bones have moved out of place (displaced fracture)
  • Pieces of bone have punctured the skin (open fracture)

Because of the increased risk of infection, open fractures are scheduled for surgery as soon as possible, usually within hours. Patient are given antibiotics by vein (intravenous) in the emergency room, and may receive a tetanus shot. During surgery, the cuts from the injury and the surfaces of the broken bone are thoroughly