Pediatric Elbow Fractures

Pediatric Elbow Fractures

July 18, 2021

Paul Nielsen, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon

What Are the Symptoms of a Pediatric Elbow Fracture?

  • Pain in the elbow after an injury
  • Significant swelling in the elbow
  • Refusal to use the arm in younger children

What Are Common Causes of These Pediatric Injuries?

  • Falling off playground equipment like monkey bars or trampolines
  • Landing on the arm after a fall while running
  • Falls while climbing

How Are Pediatric Elbow Fractures Classified?

  • By Location
    • Supracondylar: fracture of the end of the humerus just above the elbow joint
    • Radial neck: the bone on the thumb side of the forearm bones at the elbow 
    • Olecranon: the hinge part of the elbow joint
    • Medial epicondyle: bone on the inside of the elbow with important ligaments attached

How Are Pediatric Elbow Fractures Treated?

  • Non-displaced or minimally displaced fractures are often treated with a cast for 6 weeks 
    • The break is monitored with X-Rays while in the cast to make sure it’s lined up well 
    • Most radial neck fractures
  • Displaced supracondylar fractures are normally treated with surgery urgently
    • Swelling can become severe and troublesome if these are left untreated 
    • Pins are placed into the elbow to hold the fracture in place
      • These are removed in clinic about 5 weeks after surgery to start movement 
    • Most children stay in the hospital overnight to monitor for excessive swelling
  • Olecranon fractures require surgery if the joint is not lined up correctly
    • Pins usually hold the break lined up and are removed a few months later
  • Medial epicondyle fractures are usually fixed if displaced 
    • 1 or 2 screws hold the broken piece back in place
    • This is usually an same-day, outpatient surgery

Concerned about an elbow fracture for your child? Call 308-865-2570 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nielsen today. Same day appointments typically available. No referral required.


About the Author

Paul Nielsen, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand, elbow, and shoulder surgery at New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery in Kearney, NE.

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