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Elbow Fracture In Children, Ambulatory Care

An elbow fracture

is a break in one or more of the 3 bones that form your child's elbow joint. An elbow fracture is often caused by an injury. An example is a fall onto an outstretched hand with a bent elbow.

Common symptoms include the following:

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Trouble moving his arm or not being able to move his arm at all
  • Weakness or numbness in the elbow, arm, or hand
  • Deformity (the arm is shaped differently than normal)

Seek immediate care for the following symptoms:

  • Numb elbow, arm, or fingers
  • Swollen, cold, or pale skin
  • Open skin areas on his elbow and arm that will not stop bleeding

Treatment for an elbow fracture may include any of the following:

  • A device such as a splint, cast, or sling may be put on your child's elbow and arm. The device will hold the broken bones in place while they heal, help decrease pain, and prevent more damage.
  • Surgery may be needed to hold bones in their normal position with pins, wires, or screws. Surgery may also be done if your child has other injuries, such as nerve or blood vessel damage.

Manage your child's symptoms:

  • Elevate your child's elbow. Use pillows to keep your child's elbow raised above the level of his heart as often as you can. This helps decrease swelling and pain. Elevation can also help the injury heal faster. While your child's elbow is elevated, have him wiggle his fingers and open and close them to prevent hand stiffness.
  • Put ice on your child's elbow. Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your child's elbow for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.
  • Give your child pain medicine as directed. Your child may be given prescription pain medicine. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give him the medicine. Your child's healthcare provider may also recommend NSAID pain medicine. These medicines are available without a doctor's order. Give these medicines as directed. NSAIDs may cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if not taken correctly. Do not give your child aspirin unless directed by his healthcare provider.
  • Take your child to physical therapy as directed. A physical therapist can teach your child exercises to help improve movement and strength and to decrease pain.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

Care Agreement

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

© 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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