Conditions + Treatments

Treatments for Broken Elbow in Children

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The treatments for broken elbows in children depend on the location and severity of the fracture as well as the child's age and overall health.

How are broken elbows in children treated?

In most cases, broken elbows in children are treated with a splint or cast, which immobilizes the injured bone(s) to promote healing and reduce pain and swelling. Splints and casts may also be put on after surgical procedures to ensure that the bone is protected and in the proper alignment as it begins to heal.

Splints are used for minor breaks. Splints support the broken bone on one side and immobilize the injured area to promote bone alignment and healing. Splints are often used in emergency situations to hold a joint in a steady position during transportation to a medical facility.

Casts are stronger than splints and provide more protection to the injured area. They hold a broken bone in place while it heals by immobilizing the area above and below the joint. Casts have two layers: a soft inside layer that rests against the skin and a hard outer layer that prevents the injured bone from moving.

Some common types of casting for broken elbows include:

TYPE

LOCATION

USES

Long arm cast

Applied from the upper arm to the hand

Upper arm, elbow or forearm fractures; also used to hold the arm or elbow muscles and tendons in place after surgery

Arm cylinder cast

Applied from the upper arm to the wrist

To hold the elbow muscles and tendons in place after a dislocation or surgery

 

Other treatments for broken elbows include:

Surgery
May be needed to put broken bones back into place. A surgeon may insert metal rods or pins located inside the bone (internal fixation) or outside the body (external fixation) to hold bone fragments in place to allow alignment and healing. This is done under general anesthesia.

Traction
Corrects broken or dislocated bones by using a gentle and steady pulling motion in a specific direction to stretch muscles and tendons around the broken bone. This allows the bone ends to align and heal, and in some cases, it reduces painful muscle spasms.  

Closed reduction 
A nonsurgical procedure used to reduce and set the fracture. Using an anesthetic (typically given through an IV in the arm), the doctor realigns the bone fragments from outside the body and holds it in place with a cast or splint.

Physical therapy 
May be needed to strengthen the arm, restore range of motion and help the arm return to full function after treatment and/or casting.

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