Radial Head Fractures
What are they?
The forearm is made up of two long bones, the Radius and the Ulna, which connect the elbow to the wrist. Working together, these two bones allow for the forearm to turn the palm up and down and bend and straighten the elbow. When the portion of the radius closest to the elbow breaks, it is called a Radial head fracture.

A Radial head fracture is the most common elbow fracture in adults and is usually the result of a Fall On an Outstretched Hand, known as a FOOSH. See also Distal Radial fractures
Radial Head Fractures
What are the symptoms?
A radial head fracture is usually caused by a fall on to the wrist or through a hit directly on the elbow such as a side impact road traffic accident. High impact sports such as rugby, falling from a great height and osteoporosis (low bone density) may make it more likely for the radial head to fracture. 

A fractured radial head may cause a decreased ability to move the forearm and elbow. There may also be swelling, pain and bruising in the elbow or forearm. At times, the elbow may have an abnormal appearance and numbness may be felt in the back of the hand and thumb.

The elbow swelling may reduce after a couple of days and the person may be able to continue moving their elbow and wrist despite a fractured Radial head so long as its not displaced or in lots of small pieces 

Radial Head Fractures
If you have a small fracture and your bones did not move around much, you will likely wear a splint or sling that supports your arm, elbow, and forearm. You will probably need to wear this for at least 2 to 3 weeks.

If your break is more severe, you may need surgery to:

  • Insert pins and plates to hold your bones in place
  • Replace the broken piece with a metal part
  • Repair torn ligaments (tissues that connect bones)

Depending on how severe your fracture is and on other factors, you may not have full range of motion after you recover. Most fractures heal well in 6 to 8 weeks.

Radial Head Fractures
Treatment at Hand Kinetics
Treatment at Hand Kinetics depends on the type of fracture and whether it required surgery or not.

You may not need to wear a solid cast if the fracture is stable as some prefabricated ones would be lighter and permit selected, controlled movement at the elbow and the wrist to prevent stiffness. 

At Hand Kinetics you will be shown how to do your exercises and how to care for your scar to keep it soft and prevent it from sticking to surrounding tissue.

Please note:
If you have had arm or hand surgery please telephone to discuss this before attending. It is always helpful to bring any x-ray reports you may have if you recently attended hospital for your hand or arm condition.

Hand Kinetics Telephone: 0044 28 417 72301



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