Olecranon Fracture

An olecranon fracture is a type of elbow injury that involves a break in the bony “tip” of the elbow, known as the olecranon. This part of the bone is part of the ulna, one of the three bones that come together to form the elbow joint.

Symptoms

Typical symptoms of an olecranon fracture may include:

  • Immediate, intense pain in the elbow
  • Swelling over the back of the elbow
  • Inability to straighten the elbow
  • Pain with movement of the elbow or forearm

Diagnosis

A diagnosis of an olecranon fracture is typically made through:

  • Physical Examination: The doctor will look for signs of swelling, tenderness or an inability to move the elbow.
  • Imaging Tests: An X-ray is usually carried out to confirm the diagnosis. In some cases, a CT scan might be necessary for a more detailed view.

Prevention

Preventing an olecranon fracture involves:

  • Using safety equipment and protective gear during physical activities.
  • Keeping the home environment free of hazards that could lead to falls.
  • Regularly participating in activities that improve balance and coordination.

Treatment Options

Treatment for an olecranon fracture depends on the severity and complexity of the fracture:

  • Non-Surgical Treatment: If it’s a non-displaced fracture, the treatment could involve immobilising the elbow with a splint or cast, followed by physiotherapy.
  • Medication: Pain can be managed by over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications.
  • Surgery: More severe fractures may require surgery to either fix the bone pieces with screws and plates or to replace the fractured olecranon with a prosthetic. Post-surgery, physiotherapy plays a crucial role in regaining strength and functionality in the elbow.