Olecranon Fracture

Elbow Anatomy

Three bones, humerus, radius and ulna make up the elbow joint. The bones are held together by ligaments thus providing stability to the joint. Muscles and tendons around the bones coordinate the movements and help in performing various activities.

Elbow Fractures

Elbow fractures may occur from trauma resulting from a variety of reasons, some of them being a fall on an outstretched arm, a direct blow to the elbow, or an abnormal twist to the joint beyond its functional limit.

Olecranon Fractures

An olecranon fracture is a fracture that occurs at the bony prominence of the ulna.

Symptoms of Olecranon Fractures

Symptoms of an olecranon fracture include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Stiffness in and around the elbow
  • A popping or cracking sound
  • Deformity of the elbow bones

Diagnosis of Olecranon Fractures

To diagnose olecranon fractures X-rays of the joint are taken. In some cases, a CT scan may be needed to get to know the details of the joint surface.

Treatment of Olecranon Fractures

The aim of the treatment is to maximise early motion to reduce the risk of stiffness. The fractures, if stable, are treated using an immobilising splint followed by a regimen of motion exercises. However severe fractures require surgical repair.

Nonsurgical treatment options include use of a splint or a sling to immobilise the elbow during the healing process. Surgery is indicated in displaced and open fractures to realign the bones and stabilise the joint as well as to avoid deep infections. 
Strengthening exercises, scar massage, therapy with ultrasound, heat, and ice are recommended to improve the range of motion. Splints are also used to facilitate stretching of the joint.