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Distal Humerus Fractures

Elbow Anatomy

The elbow is a region between the upper arm and forearm. The elbow joint is made up of 3 bones. The distal (lower) end of the humerus bone in the upper arm joins with the radius and ulna bones in the forearm to form the elbow joint. The elbow joint is very important for the movement of your arm and for coordination of daily activities.

What is a Distal Humerus Fracture of the Elbow?

A distal humerus fracture is a rare injury that occurs when there is a break in the lower end of the humerus.Fracture of the distal humerus can cause pain and impairment in the function of the elbow joint.

Causes of Distal Humerus Fractures

A distal humerus fracture may result from a fall. This occurs more often when you land directly on your elbow during the fall or when you get struck by a hard object. It can also happen when you fall onto your outstretched hand with the elbow locked straight.

Symptoms of Distal Humerus Fractures

Distal humerus fractures are usually very painful. The common symptoms are swelling, bruising, stiffness, tenderness, pain and inability to move the arm.

Diagnosis of Distal Humerus Fractures

Your doctor will examine the skin for any cuts and assess the elbow to determine the presence of broken bones or injuries. An X-ray will confirm the diagnosis. A CT scan may be needed to further assess the extent and severity of the fracture.

Treatment of Distal Humerus Fractures

Distal humerus fractures can be treated by both non-surgical and surgical methods based on the individual patient and the severity of the fracture.

Non-surgical Treatment of Distal Humerus Fractures

If the fracture has not caused displacement of the bone, then your doctor may apply a splint and/or sling to immobilize and protect the elbow during healing.

Surgical Treatment of Distal Humerus Fractures

Most commonly, your doctor may recommend surgery, particularly if the fracture has led to displacement of bone or involves the elbow joint. During surgery, the displaced bone or pieces of bone are joined together with the help of metal screws and plates. You may also be administered antibiotics to avoid the risk of infection.

Prevention of Distal Humerus Fractures

Care should be taken while you walk or run and especially while climbing up and down the stairs. This can prevent you from falling and help avoid accidental fractures.

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