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Elbow Anatomy in Children

The arm in the human body is made up of three bones that join to form a hinge joint called the elbow. The upper arm bone or humerus connects from the shoulder to the elbow to form the top of the hinge joint. The lower arm or forearm consists of two bones, the radius, and the ulna. These bones connect the wrist to the elbow forming the bottom portion of the hinge joint.

Children’s bones have an area of developing cartilage tissue called a growth plate present at the end of long bones that will eventually develop into solid bone as the child grows.

What is an Elbow Fracture?

A break in any of the bones that form the elbow is called an elbow fracture.

Causes of Elbow Fractures in Children

Fractures are more common in children due to their physical activities as well as their bone properties. An elbow fracture most commonly occurs when your child falls on an outstretched arm. 

Symptoms of Elbow Fractures

It can lead to severe pain in the elbow and numbness in the hand. 

How are Elbow Fractures in Children Evaluated?

Your child’s doctor first evaluates your child’s arm for signs of damage to blood vessels and nerves. An X-ray examination is then ordered to confirm and determine the severity of the fracture. Treatment of elbow fractures depends on the degree of displacement and type of fracture:

Non-surgical treatment Elbow Fractures in Children

If there is little or no displacement from the normal position, non-surgical treatment is recommended. Your child’s doctor may immobilize the arm using a cast for 3 to 5 weeks. Regular X-rays are ordered to check if the bones are properly aligned.

Surgical treatment Elbow Fractures in Children 

Surgery may be recommended if the fracture has caused the bones to move out of alignment. Your child’s doctor brings the bones in correct alignment and may use metal pins, screws and wires to hold the bones in place. Your child must wear a cast for a few weeks. Exercises to improve the range of motion will be instructed after a month of healing.

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