Discussions By Condition: Arm Conditions

Treatment for broken elbow!?

Posted In: Arm Conditions 46 Replies
  • Posted By: Anonymous
  • September 13, 2006
  • 03:21 PM

Can anyone tell me what a orthopedic specialist would normally do for a medial epicondylar avulsion fracture? My thoughts are either surgery, plaster cast or hard cast, is this correct? I know when my other daughter broke her elbow 6 years ago, they put it in a plaster cast for 6 weeks. Why didn't they do it this time??

I ask because my daughter (13) broke her elbow and the orthopedic specialist's treatment was to do nothing. She was told in the ER she would need surgery and pins placed, but the orthopedic surgeon said this was not necessary! He said a cast neither plaster or soft was necessary and he gave her a sling and told her to start range of motion. Of course, he said that there would be no consequences to doing nothing and he reassured her that her elbow would be fully functional after healing and physical therapy. Months later and after physical therapy, my daughter cannot straighten her elbow past 60% which is greatly affecting her tumbling ability and was last told by this same orthopedic surgeon that she will NEVER be able to fully straighten her elbow again because the bone grew back crooked. Could it have grown back crooked because he did NOTHING to mobilize the arm during the healing process? I am seeking a 2nd opinion right now to determine if anything can be done or should have been done!

Have you ever heard of having a broken elbow and doing nothing besides putting it in a sling? I can understand if my daughter wasn't involved in a sport where the full use of her elbow (or at least 85-90%) was no critical, but in order to be a cheerleader and tumble, she MUST use her elbow which was fully emphasized since the beginning! ANy ideas on what I should do and if necessary should I begin legal pursuit?? Thanks for listening.

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  • I broke both elbows (at the same time) 2 years ago and the orthopedic doctor put both arms in slings & did nothing else. Neither elbow healed straight (instead of growing back flush, the bones healed in a step like formation). I do not have full range of motion back in either elbow and can not straighten either elbow. I have constant pain in them no matter what I am doing. If it involves lifting, pulling or holding my weight I can count on instant pain which lasts for hours and hours. I went to therapy but it did not help me at all. I am constantly searching for anything that will help me but have found nothing. I am desperate to be able to straighten my arms and to have a life without pain. I can only imagine what it will be like when arthritis sets in. If you do find anything out, please let me know! Denali ps: I was told that the reason for not casting by elbows was because the break was already being protected by the socket of the joint so there was no chance of doing any further damage. I don't know if that is true or not, but that was his reasoning.
    Denali1021 1 Replies
    • November 6, 2006
    • 03:03 AM
    • 0
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  • My daughter broke her elbow 4 months ago plus 2 other bones in her forearm, she had a plate and 8 pins put in, the pins are now sticking out really bad so we have pressured them into taking them out but she has lost alot of movement and they say there is nothing they can do. I have asked for a second opinion and i will not stop till someone helps.She is 18 and rides horses for a living so this is destroying her. Any one with any ideas on whAT we can all do.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • December 30, 2006
    • 01:04 PM
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  • the best thing to do is to call another orthopedic surgeon and explain to them what's going on...they can try and fix it...but it requires surgury. the ER was right she more than likely should have had surgury and had pins places to create a better guided healing process. it may never heal right, BUT they can do surgury where they re-break the arm and adjust the healing.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I broke my elbow (radial head) 2 months ago and had surgery. they put 3 screws in to fix it up. I have been going to therapy, it has been 1 month and I have got some movement back in the elbow (bending) but can't straighten my elbow (off by 20 degrees) or turn my hand from palm down to plam up (can only get about half way). Will more therapy help and time, or I'm I just going to have to live with the movement that I got?One way I look at it is, bones are not ment to brake, even surgery can't make everything normal again.I'm male 28 referee hockey and ride bicycle's for a living, but now I think I have to get a "real" job.If any of you find a treatment do share it with us.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • When I was 13 I broke my elbow. The doctor reset it with pins that were removed when the cast came off. After a year I could not straighten my arm more than 150 degrees with some pain. Started playing golf and before long I could open it all the way with no pain. That was 45 years ago.I haven't played golf in 10 years or more now and the pain has returned also opening my arm more than 160 degrees is nearly impossible.May have to take up golf again.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • September 11, 2007
    • 02:32 PM
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  • Hi just wanted to tell you I have been going through the same thing with my 11 year old son. I took him to a different specialist and he said it should have been casted and pinned. I was also told there is a good chance his arm will stop growing because of it. I did contact legal advice and was told we do have a case.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • December 7, 2007
    • 08:31 PM
    • 0
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  • Hi The other day I went out on my in-line skates and whilst going down a hill i lost my balance. I fell backwards onto my wrist, my arm was extended and my arm took the full force of my body weight. I was in so much pain that my partner took me to A&E where I got xrays. They could hardly do the xrays properly because i couldn't bend my arm or extend it straight. The doctor said my arm was very swollen and proceeded to make me try and move my arm which was amazing painful and I couldnt do it. He said I wasn't trying hard enough and made me cry with how much he was hurting me. Anyway he said my arm wasn't broken from the xrays. so my arm is in a sling and i've been given string painkillers.This was three days ago. I still cannot bend or extend my arm and i'm in a lot of pain. If I dont take a painkiller my elbow throbs and its still swollen. I have been looking up elbow injuries on the net and how Doc's can misdiagnose elbow breaks or fractures because xrays are not always sufficient. I'm worried about my elbow. can anyone help? i dont know what to do.thanks
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • February 26, 2008
    • 09:21 AM
    • 0
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  • The area which you are describing seems to be a failure by the attending physician to obtain satisfactory union in the treatment of a fracture/dislocation. Treatments for a broken elbow include (1) "using a cast or splint" to maintain the bone fragments in proper position after they had been set, (2) "traction or extension" to fatigue the muscles both above and below the fracture (extension and counter extension) and so keep the bone fragments in apposition and alignment, and (3) "open reduction" in which the flesh is surgically opened so that the bones can be properly placed under visual examination and then kept in position by metal or bone plates or pegs, bands, wires, or sutures applied directly to the bone. Not doing these or doing these incorrectly may be reason for a lawyer to look into the matter. Volume 54 of the American Law Reports (ALR) beginning at page 200 (54 A.L.R.2d 200) gives a great deal of information on Malpractice: treatment of fractures or dislocations. Get a copy of 54 A.L.R.2d 200 from your local law library and read it to get a better idea of where your situation lies. Using the information in 54 A.L.R.2d 200, prepare a write up of your situation. Then, contact a medical malpractice lawyer in your area to set up a free consolation and suggest that you would like to send him/her a copy of 54 A.L.R.2d 200 and your write up in advance of the free consultation. That will allow the lawyer to prepare for the meeting. Best of luck.
    Jane Willmington 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • My daughter broke her elbow 4 months ago plus 2 other bones in her forearm, she had a plate and 8 pins put in, the pins are now sticking out really bad so we have pressured them into taking them out but she has lost alot of movement and they say there is nothing they can do. I have asked for a second opinion and i will not stop till someone helps.She is 18 and rides horses for a living so this is destroying her. Any one with any ideas on whAT we can all do.I dislocated my radius head about 6 weeks ago I had surgery 3 days later after the ER doctor put me in a cast and said it would heal itself I was in so much pain from the dislocation and the sweling. Luckly I have a very good friend that is a nurse for an Orthpedic she told him the situation and he had me in surgery as soon as possiable. I have three pins in my arm and will stay there. I ride horses too, and I am very eger to get back on them. Put it takes time I am doing phiscal therapy now and my arm is not getting straighter fast enough.I would not give up I am sure there is a doctor out there that can help and phisical therapy helps alot so dont give up.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • The area which you are describing seems to be a failure by the attending physician to obtain satisfactory union in the treatment of a fracture/dislocation. Treatments for a broken elbow include (1) "using a cast or splint" to maintain the bone fragments in proper position after they had been set, (2) "traction or extension" to fatigue the muscles both above and below the fracture (extension and counter extension) and so keep the bone fragments in apposition and alignment, and (3) "open reduction" in which the flesh is surgically opened so that the bones can be properly placed under visual examination and then kept in position by metal or bone plates or pegs, bands, wires, or sutures applied directly to the bone. Not doing these or doing these incorrectly may be reason for a lawyer to look into the matter. Volume 54 of the American Law Reports (ALR) beginning at page 200 (54 A.L.R.2d 200) gives a great deal of information on Malpractice: treatment of fractures or dislocations. Get a copy of 54 A.L.R.2d 200 from your local law library and read it to get a better idea of where your situation lies. Using the information in 54 A.L.R.2d 200, prepare a write up of your situation. Then, contact a medical malpractice lawyer in your area to set up a free consolation and suggest that you would like to send him/her a copy of 54 A.L.R.2d 200 and your write up in advance of the free consultation. That will allow the lawyer to prepare for the meeting. Best of luck.Hi Jane.I have a dislocated elbow and a fracture to radial head. I did it four days ago in Spain. Spanish doctor felt I would almost certainly need surgery and elbow was put back in place and immobilized in a cast, splint and sling. Back in UK last night, saw orthopaedic specialist today. He has removed cast, left my elbow/arm hanging free in cotton slling, ordered brace (due in a few days) only after thinking about it - he wasn't going to give me anything - seeing him again next week, confirmed I have fracture with splintered bone sticking out, but has said surgery not necessary. I don't like the way my arm has been left hanging like this, I'm worried about it and Spanish doc truly felt surgery was likely to be necessary because I have a fracture. My arm feels exposed and vulnerable and is uncomfortable now. I'm 29. Do you think his care was incorrect? 2nd opinion? ThanksJenny
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • August 13, 2008
    • 02:18 PM
    • 0
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  • I fell down the stairs, helping friends move a love seat. When I got to the ER, I explained the pain I was in and also communicated that my wrist was throbbing like crazy. They immediately took xrays and told me I broke my radial head. That I needed to see a specialist at a different hospital. After only a few short minutes of being there, the specialist explained that the pain I not only broke off my radial head and it was hanging there by a thread, I also dislocated my elbow and the pain I was feeling in my wrist? All pulled and stretched out ligaments that would also require one more surgery. The surgeon explained once your radial head is broken in this manner, there's no way of fixing it with screws and such, it needs to be replaced by titanium.Two days later, I had surgery. No pins, No screws, just pure bone replacement. This hasn't been a walk in the park..........but, I was told from the get go I would loose A LOT of mobility in my arm. After two weeks, I had my staples taken out, and I was given physical therapy exercises. Here I am unable to do much, but grateful I didn't break my back or neck in the fall.I hope this has been helpful.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • August 27, 2008
    • 11:05 PM
    • 0
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  • I broke my radial head on may 25. (i was 13)my doctor only did put me in a sling, but it was also a very minor fracture. I actually did beg him for a cast, because people kept pushing me into lockers, and my elbow would KILL. He never gave me a cast. He said there was a slight chance i wouldn't be able to fdully extend my arm again. I never went to physical therapy like i was supposed to. I can extend my arm to about 97%. It's really close to being straight, but not quite...
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 22, 2008
    • 03:29 AM
    • 0
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  • For those whose doctors did nothing I would definitely get a second opinion, and possible pursue legal action. I green stick fractured my elbow back in November, it was not diagnosed at the time. I kept getting told it was just a simple sprain it would heal, after three weeks of it not healing but getting worse they did other tests which showed something was going on either in the ligaments or the bone. I was referred out to an Ortho who the doctors picked and made an appointment for me two days later. Said ortho said nothing was wrong with my arm, took me out of the sling and said use it as much as possible and stopped my pain medication. I was to go back and see him in two months for a follow up visit. The first thing I did was called my dad asked who did his leg surgery and contacted her. I got in right away because it was an ongoing problem and the amount of pain I was in. She did more tests and told me I green stick fractured it, which since they are rare in adults no one would have thought to look for and she was even surprised on the finding, and because it was not caught that it did not heal correctly. Which was causing my joint to keep popping out of the socket slightly and then back in place. Surgery would be required and I am going to have it on the Ninth, this appointment when it was scheduled was on the 31st. Doctors can fix bones not healing correctly they have to go in surgically and rebreak the bone and set it cast it and let it heal but it can be done. No one should have to suffer from limited range of motion because of an incompetent doctor.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 3, 2009
    • 05:59 PM
    • 0
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  • I'm new here as I regulary google "Elbow Fracture" and related stuff, and happened to come across this forum. My elbow was fracured 7 months ago and I had 3 metal plates fitted and god knows how many screws, they're really prominent. I often knock my arm because the metal work sticks out so much, the pain is horrendous. I have 10% movement in terms of bending my arm. Im having an operation next month, they're going to see weather they can remove a plate if not all, and maybe add some wire. The risks are very scary to say the least and they can't guarentee my arm will get any better. Even my surgeon said the only positive thing is that I am right handed (My left arm's the damaged one). As some of you obviously can relate to the frustration is beyond me. I just found it so refreshing to read this particular thread. Thanks. :)
    KittyC 1 Replies
    • January 22, 2009
    • 05:30 AM
    • 0
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  • I fractured my radius head 2 months ago. It was not too bad, and still in a good position, so I was told to keep it in a sling because if casted I would lose all mobility, so that's why nobody is casted with this fracture/ break. However, I got xrays again at ~10 weeks and was told no healing had occurred, but still nothing to do to it. I thought this was strange, but then hit it again and broke it even further and worse. Right after, I was told I needed surgery since it hadn't healed before and was worse now. After a CT scan the doctor is now thinking it'd be more complicated than before and talking not doing surgery. It has also now taken a week to get back to me since I knocked it even worse.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • January 24, 2009
    • 02:40 AM
    • 0
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  • HiI broke my left elbow in 3 places 7 months ago, and the surgeon had t break my lower arm also to set it right. After having 11 screws, 2 plates, 2 pins and a load of wire put in, my elbow looked and felt awful! after one month of physio i was getting nowhere, but my arm gave way one night and i woke up and had 20 deg more bend....5 months of physio after my accident, i reached 30 degrees off straightness and 30 degrees off my normal bend. and thats all the best its going to get. I have had my pins taken out as they were beginning to come loose and were very visible through my skin and causing some discomfort. Hopefully next year I will be able to get the rest of the metal work out, as my arms are pretty skinny and it all sticks out and looks quite hideous!!!!! Before I had my little accident, I was extremely sport and would try my hand at anything - my main sport was hockey, and I was so pleased to find that when I picked a hockey stick up for the first time it was fine. My hockey has hardly been affected (barring the fitness level that took a dive and a little less strenght in my arm which i can build up again) I am lucky it was my left arm as it is not my leading arm, I can still swim and do most other things but as time goes by you find more and more things you cant do - backstroke is impossible! and volleyball. and golf, and most recently I couldnt try the surf machine on holiday because I can't straighten my arm!! My physio did mention that a patient she had with similar injury, had another operation to rrestructure her joint after a couple of years, and she was able to straighten her arm afterwards - she woke up with a machine bending and straightening her arm for her, and had intense physion so it healed as it was set in the op. While this may not be possible for everyone, I really hope it is for me as I hate to look at my holiday snaps with one arm hanging nicely and the other at a funny angle! But hey - if i will mix rollerskating and alcohol!!!
    fionachunter 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • the best thing to do is to call another orthopedic surgeon and explain to them what's going on...they can try and fix it...but it requires surgury. the ER was right she more than likely should have had surgury and had pins places to create a better guided healing process. it may never heal right, BUT they can do surgury where they re-break the arm and adjust the healing. I agree with this! This sounds like her elbow can still be fixed right. I broke my elbow few months back and the ER doctor told me that I will for sure needed surgury. I needed a plate with around 6 screws in my elbow to fix it. He said along time ago it was common practice to just cast them and take it off 6 weeks later, but now days the method used on me is done. I would have to say it depends on the break as well. Just as a FYI I had a good orthopedic and 3 1/2 hour surgury along with myself doing therapy, but I still have not got my full range back. Elbow is a tough one to get back all together and I only wish I could turn back the clock on the day I broke mine.
    KingFish 2 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi The other day I went out on my in-line skates and whilst going down a hill i lost my balance. I fell backwards onto my wrist, my arm was extended and my arm took the full force of my body weight. I was in so much pain that my partner took me to A&E where I got xrays. They could hardly do the xrays properly because i couldn't bend my arm or extend it straight. The doctor said my arm was very swollen and proceeded to make me try and move my arm which was amazing painful and I couldnt do it. He said I wasn't trying hard enough and made me cry with how much he was hurting me. Anyway he said my arm wasn't broken from the xrays. so my arm is in a sling and i've been given string painkillers.This was three days ago. I still cannot bend or extend my arm and i'm in a lot of pain. If I dont take a painkiller my elbow throbs and its still swollen. I have been looking up elbow injuries on the net and how Doc's can misdiagnose elbow breaks or fractures because xrays are not always sufficient. I'm worried about my elbow. can anyone help? i dont know what to do.thanks I would go and get another opinion on it. Don't take any chances with this because elbow is something you use all the time. I broke my elbow, but just looking at mine I could tell it was. I had surgury on mine and still to this day 4 months later I do not have full range.
    KingFish 2 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi, go back to the hospital ASAP. This sounds like what happened to me, I was told my arm was fine. I ended up having emergency surgery and being in intensive care. I had a fracture in the elbow which got infected with Osteomylitis, this is a bone marrow infection and can be deadly. After recovering my mum was told they failed to see the fracture and in turn the infection kicked off even then they wouldnt believe anything was wrong until I fell into a coma. Im now left with a deformed arm with many problems. Good luck hun
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I broke my elbow about 3 years ago and the doctor told me from the beginning i was not going to have a straight arm. it was going to be at a 15 degree angle. Doctor never did anything else other then put me in a cast which i took off after 3 days and never went back.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • December 18, 2009
    • 04:42 PM
    • 0
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