Skip to Content

Elbow Fracture in Adults


An elbow fracture is a break in one or more of the bones that form your elbow joint.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may get a blood clot in your arm or leg. The clot may travel to your heart or brain and cause life-threatening problems, such as a heart attack or stroke. Surgery may damage the nerves, tissues, and blood vessels in your arm. After surgery, you may have tightness, pain, numbness, or weakness in your elbow and arm. You may get an infection. You may get arthritis (joint swelling) in your elbow and this may cause it not to work as well as it did before your injury. Screws, nails, or pins used during your surgery may come loose, and you may need another surgery.
  • Without treatment, your broken elbow may not heal. If your fracture heals on its own, your arm may be deformed. You may not be able to move your elbow and arm as well as you did before your injury. You may have pain, weakness, or numbness in your elbow, arm, or hand. If you have open skin areas, you may get an infection. A severe infection may lead to a bone infection, which can be life-threatening.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.
  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • Tetanus shot: You may need a tetanus shot if you have breaks in your skin from your injury. A tetanus shot is medicine to prevent you from getting tetanus. Tetanus is a serious infection that can happen after any break in your skin. The shot is normally given into your arm. Your arm may get red, swollen, and sore after this shot.


  • Devices: A brace, cast, sling, or splint may be put on your elbow to limit your arm movement. These devices hold the broken bones in place while they heal. They may help decrease pain and prevent more damage to your broken bones.
  • Electrical stimulation: Electric currents are directed into your injured elbow. The currents help increase the blood flow to your elbow to help with healing. This treatment may be used along with other treatments for your elbow fracture.
  • Ultrasound therapy: Ultrasound treatments use sound waves directed into your elbow. The sound waves help the bones heal. You may need this treatment along with other treatments.
  • Surgery: If you have an open fracture, you may need debridement before your surgery. Debridement is when damaged and infected tissue is removed and your wound is cleaned. Debridement is done to help prevent infection and improve healing. During and after surgery, an x-ray of your elbow may be done. The x-ray is done to check if the bones in your elbow are being held together properly. Ask your caregiver for more information about the following surgeries:
    • Arthroplasty: This surgery is done to remove the damaged part of your elbow and replace it with an implant. An implant is a metal, ceramic, or plastic device that functions like your elbow joint. Your whole elbow joint or only a part of it may be replaced.
    • Fragment excision: The broken fragments (pieces) of bone are removed from your elbow.
    • Open reduction and internal fixation: An incision will be made in your arm. Your broken bones will be straightened. Wires, screws, metal plates, or pins may be used to hold your broken bones together. This surgery will allow your broken bones to grow back together.
    • Bone graft: A bone graft may be needed to replace lost bone from your fracture. A bone graft is a piece of bone taken from another area of your body. The bone graft may also be from a donor (another person). The graft is put into spaces between or around the broken bones in your elbow. This surgery may help your bones heal and keep their strength.

Learn more about Elbow Fracture in Adults (Inpatient Care)

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.