An elbow fracture is a bone break that happens on your elbow joint, and the main cause of it can be, most commonly, trauma, such as falling. In the recent years, there has been a rise of elbow fractures in children, the elderly, women, and athletes. Women especially should be careful as they are more prone to osteoporosis, which makes the fractures occur easier and more frequently.
There are many studies and researches that deal with the actual length of elbow fracture healing time. As with every broken bone, this depends on each individual patient, however, there are some general guidelines that can help you assess the approximate healing time. But before we get to that, let’s first see how elbows usually become fractured and how you can tell that you have a broken elbow.
How Does It Happen?
Elbow fractures mostly happen due to trauma. This can be caused by a fall on your stretched out hand when you try to break the fall. This is, of course, a natural reaction and very hard to prevent. Another way of fracturing your elbow is if you land directly on it when falling, or by twisting it.
It is sometimes hard to tell if you have a fracture or just a sprain or bruise on your elbow. You can experience pain, swelling, bruising, and have trouble bending your elbow if you have broken it. You may also notice that your elbow is crooked, or that you hear a crack or a pop when you injure it.
In order to assess the injury, your doctor will most probably perform an X-ray or a CT scan. As the treatment goes, you will likely get a splint, cast, or braces in order to prevent the elbow movement to promote the healing. Sometimes, a surgery will be necessary, and sometimes a surgeon may insert metal screws and pins into your elbow to help the bones grow back properly.
Now that we know all this, let’s see how long does the recovery process actually last.
How Long Does the Healing Take?
Generally speaking, a fracture will take about six or seven weeks to heal. Whether you have gone through surgery or gotten a simple splint, this amount of time is usually enough for your bones to heal and for you to start using your elbow normally.
However, sometimes fractures are more serious and take more time to heal. Additionally, if you are a smoker or have bad circulation, six weeks may turn into eight or ten weeks easily, so keeping a healthy lifestyle is of the essence when it comes to healing your bones.
Since there are at least five bones you can break in your elbow bone, the healing time will vary on that as well. As each fracture is different and unique to each and every individual patient, the process of mending the injury will also be quite unique. A good rule of thumb says that the younger you are, the less time you will need to heal.
The elderly will, of course, take some eight weeks or more to completely recover. Additionally, if a person is suffering from osteoporosis, naturally his or her bones will need more time to get back to their normal state. Moreover, these people have a higher chance of re-injury, so if you are suffering from this condition, take extra precautions to prevent future injuries.
How to Speed Up the Healing Process?
There are some steps you can take to actually speed up the healing process and make your bones healthy and strong again. You doctor will probably give you some pain medication to help alleviate the discomfort and soothe the mild pain.
Make sure to keep your arm elevated to reduce the swelling and do not attempt to remove you cast or splint. A doctor will remove it when it is time for it to go, and taking it off by yourself will actually prolong the healing of your bones.
Of course, prevention is always better than fixing the problem, so take some precautions to avoid the fractures altogether. When driving a car, make sure to obey the law and always wear your seat belt. Do not drink and drive, and definitely do not drive if you are under the influence of drugs or medicine that makes you doze off.
Make sure to manage the power cords, footstools, and small carpets that may cause you to trip and fall. Wipe all the spills and do not walk on icy driveways in the winter. As exercise goes, if you are too fatigued it might be best not to play sports, as injuries tend to happen more when you are tired. Always make sure you are wearing protective gear while playing sports, especially if you are into rock climbing and other extreme sports.