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Elbow Fracture

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

An elbow fracture is a break in one or more of the 3 bones that form your elbow joint. An elbow fracture is often caused by an injury. An example is a fall onto an outstretched hand with a bent elbow. Osteoporosis (brittle bones) can increase your risk for an elbow fracture.

DISCHARGE INSTRUCTIONS:

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your skin becomes swollen, cold, or pale.
  • Your elbow, hand, or fingers are numb.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • The pain gets worse, even after you rest and take your medicine.
  • You have new or more trouble moving your arm.
  • You have new sores around the area of your brace, splint, or cast.
  • Your brace, splint, or cast becomes damaged.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Medicines:

You may need any of the following:

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask your healthcare provider how to take this medicine safely. Some prescription pain medicines contain acetaminophen. Do not take other medicines that contain acetaminophen without talking to your healthcare provider. Too much acetaminophen may cause liver damage. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Self-care:

  • Elevate your elbow above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your elbow on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably. While your elbow is elevated, wiggle your fingers and open and close them to prevent hand stiffness.
  • Apply ice on your elbow on your elbow for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Go to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength and to decrease pain.

Care for your brace, cast, or splint:

Follow instructions about when you may take a bath or shower. It is important not to get your brace, cast, or splint wet. Cover your device with a plastic bag before you bathe. Tape the bag to your skin above the device to help keep out water. Hold your elbow away from the water in case the bag breaks.

  • Check the skin around your cast, brace, or splint daily for any redness or open skin.
  • Do not use a sharp or pointed object to scratch your skin under the cast, brace, or splint.
  • Do not remove your brace or splint unless directed.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may need to have your brace, splint, cast, or stitches removed. You may need x-rays to check how well the bones are healing. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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