Olecranon Fractures: Treatment & Management

Our elbow is a complex hinge joint made up of three different bones. It can also perform various functions. The elbow is able to bend and straighten up, rotate and turning up and down. When you try to bend your elbow, the sharp tip protruding out is called the olecranon. Olecranon fractures are injuries that affect the particular bone.

Treatment

After a patient suffers from an Olecranon fracture, the first thing a doctor will administer is ice and pain relief medication followed by elbow immobilization. The doctor will then determine if surgery is required depending on the extent of the fracture.

Nonsurgical treatment

Patients who do not have a severe fracture will not be required to undergo surgery. Nonsurgical treatment is fairly straightforward. The patient will need to immobilize the fractured elbow using a splint or sling during the healing process. The patient will also need to visit the hospital once a week for X-ray imaging to monitor the healing process. If there are no protruding bone fragments, movement will resume after a month. During the healing process, a physiotherapist will be assigned to teach basic strengthening exercises. If the fracture shifts during this process, the patient will eventually surgery to piece the bones together.

Surgical treatment

Surgery will be needed for patients who have serious fractures such as an open fracture or displaced fracture. In a displaced fracture, the fracture is out of place. This is due to the strong attachment of the bicep muscles to the olecranon. Once the fracture is out of place, the elbow will be unable to straighten at all. An open fracture on the other hand means that the bone fragments have cut the skin, leading to an increased risk of infection. This is a much more serious condition and patients will be administered with antibiotics and tetanus shot. An incision will be made at the back of the elbow where the surgeon will piece the bone fragments together again. Large pieces of bones may be joined together using pins, wires, screws or plates and these metal implants can be permanent or biodegradable.

Management

Following surgery, rehabilitation will be required in order to regain the elbow to its previous condition. As the healing process is lengthy, bone resorption could have taken place. As such, the region is much weaker. A physiotherapist will thus concentrate on regaining bone mass and muscular strength in the elbow.

First Aid for Elbow Fracture

First Aid for Elbow Fracture

Our elbow is an integral component of our arm and it acts in the same manner as a door hinge, providing uninterrupted movements such as lifting and support. It also provides rotational capabilities for the forearm as well as the hand, allowing the arm to be in a position where actions can be performed swiftly. Fractures to the elbow means that the forearm bones which consists of the radius and ulna is broken, either due to a direct trauma from falls or exertion of too much force onto it. Elbow fractures will cause unwanted elbow pain and prevent normal daily actions from being accomplished and can cause severe disruptions to our daily lives. As such, fractures must be treated with utmost care to prevent long term complications.

Do not move the patient

Do not attempt to move the patient at all. Any slight movements under the intention of identifying a fracture can possible damage the surrounding soft tissues as well as cause shock which is life-threatening. In minor cases, the patient may be able to move part of his elbow but in serious cases where bone fragments are aplenty, the sharp fragments can cut into the nerves.

Immobilisation

In any cases, try to immobilise the patient using available tools such as a thick tree branch that is washed prior to minimise infection. Using this splint, immobilise the area above and below the fracture and this will help to prevent the bone as well as the fragments from moving about, reducing the chances of them injuring the soft tissues and causing internal bleeding.

 Stop the bleeding

If there is any visible bleeding present, try to stop it by applying mild pressure to the area without causing additional trauma towards the fracture. When possible, use a sterile bandage but a clean piece of cloth will often suffice in desperate times.

 Sling the arm

Slinging the arm will help to better support the fractured elbow and reduce any additional stresses and movements at the elbow joint. Slings can be made from simple materials such as clothes and towels if you are unable to find any sterile sling bandages. Always sling the injured elbow higher than the heart to reduce swelling and bleeding.

Elbow fractures can range from minor ones to complicated ones which will possibly lead to long term complications. The first aid rendered to the patient will often have a huge impact on the recovery of the patient and improper first aid rendered can cause more problems.

 

Importance of Recovery Period In Your Exercise Regime

Rest and recovery is probably the most important part of your exercise regime. Sufficient rest is required to maintain high level performance levels but many people still choose to over train and overuse their muscles. Too much rest will cause you to lose the intensity while too little will cause you to burn out fast. You need to strike a balance between rest and training. Repair and strengthening of the body doesn’t take place during the exercise itself. Instead, they happen when the body is at rest.

Recovery starts the moment you stop exercising. The glycogen in your muscle will be replenished and your body will start to repair muscles that are damaged such as minor muscle tears. It is through this process that your muscles get stronger and firmer. Imagine yourself twisting a paper clip now. The more you twist it, the stronger and more difficult it becomes. Your muscles will be able to withstand stronger loads the next time. However, all these are only possible through rest and recovery.

Sufficient recovery time also helps to burn more fats in your body. You can be doing a lot of cardiovascular training but without sufficient rest, you cannot burn off the fats effectively. Recovery allows the body to have time to fully stretch and contract the muscles and increase the heart rate. This increases metabolism and eat away excess fats.

Many athletes suffer from injuries simply because they over train and overuse their muscles. Without sufficient recovery periods, the muscles are unable to cope with the intense activities going on and pre-existing injuries will be amplified. Insufficient rest will also cause you to lose focus on what you are doing at the moment and this can be very dangerous, especially if you are lifting heavy weights.

Another extremely important reason why recovery is important is to allow sufficient rehydration of the entire body. Intensive training will use up all the fluids in the body and if they are not replenished, it can cause muscle cramps and even cause the body to break down. The muscles need to be constantly fed with electrolytes to keep them in optimum condition.

Rest and recovery are the most important part of a training regime. Although you may be tempted to not rest during exercises hoping to gain more muscles, it can lead to injuries and cause a negative effect for the body. Recovery also helps to repair the body and prevent injuries such as shoulder pain or elbow pain especially if you are playing sports such as tennis.

Top 3 Most Common Elbow Injuries

Our elbow is basically a joint in which the humerus bone, ulna bone and the radius bone is connected together to form a joint that functions like a hinge. The radius bone and the ulna bone also enable the elbow to rotate around the forearm. The main function of the elbow is to move forward and back as well as rotate around. Tendons are connected to the elbow and they can be easily injured either due to a sudden impact or due to ageing. The elbow is one of the most easily injured parts of the body as it is like a ball and socket joint in which the ball can easily slip out of the socket. Let’s look at some of the common elbow injuries.

Dislocation

Elbow dislocation is one of the few serious elbow injuries that can be sustained. Dislocation is often caused by trauma or injury such as a sudden impact from full contact sports such as rugby or high falls from activities such as rock climbing. The patient will suffer an immediate loss of motion in the elbow and severe pain. Depending on the severity, the elbow may even look like it is deformed due to the bones sticking out. The bones will need to be rejoined back in the shortest possible time. Most people will try to push back the bone but this is a huge mistake as it should only be performed by highly trained medical personnel under sedation to prevent further damages to the surrounding tendons.

Fracture

Fracture is another serious elbow injury and the symptoms are similar to a dislocation. It is also caused by sudden impact or fall from great heights and landing on a hand, causing the elbow to fracture. Patients will suffer a loss in range of motion but not as much as a dislocation. In more severe cases, patients may even experience numbness and this can indicate possible nerve damages. Since fractures are cracks in the bone, patients can experience a loss in blood circulation and this can be easily diagnosed by a lower temperature in the injured area or a weakened pulse.

Olecranon Bursitis

Patients who are suffering from Olecranon Bursitis will experience swelling at the elbow and will feel pain with every movement. Olecranon Bursitis is due to the inflammation of the bursa and this is often caused by overuse of the elbow or infection. This is usually due to prolonged periods of leaning on the elbow with the whole body weight leaning on it.

Elbow injuries are inevitable at some point in time of your life. However, the elbow is a part of our body which is heavily used daily and if we fail to take good care of it, it will cause much inconvenience to our daily lives.