An olecranon fracture involves damage to one of the elbow bones. It is important to note that the olecranon is the prominent bone forming the elbow point. If an individual has this type of injury, it disrupts with the capability to straighten out the elbow joint.
The injury can occur from falling on the back part of the elbow or if the triceps muscle tugs away a bone fragment from the joint.
What are the signs?
An individual who sustained trauma such as a vehicular accident or fall and ends up with elbow pain or difficulty moving the joint must be assessed for an olecranon fracture.
The usual signs of the injury include:
- Elbow pain, usually on the back part
- Inability or difficulty flexing the joint
- Swelling and bruising of the elbow
- Deformity of the bone behind the joint
An olecranon fracture is often suspected based on the physical exam, but a diagnosis is usually given when an X-ray is taken.
Management of an olecranon fracture
The treatment for an olecranon fracture is based on the degree of displacement of the bony fragments and functionality of the triceps muscle. In case the fracture is not displaced or only slightly displaced and the triceps muscle can extend the joint, surgery is not needed.
In such cases, a splint or sling is placed, and adequate rest will allow the injury to heal. Otherwise, surgery of the fracture is the usual form of treatment.
If the body fragments are out of alignment or the triceps muscle is not functioning, surgery is the suitable approach. After surgery, there is a short period of immobilization, but the aim is to start movement as soon as possible. Gentle motion is typically started within the initial weeks after surgery.
Disclaimer / More Information
The information posted on this page on an olecranon fracture is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn how the injury is managed, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Saskatoon, Victoria, Surrey, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Red Deer, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.