Radial Head Fracture

A radial head fracture is a type of elbow injury that typically occurs as a result of a fall on an outstretched hand. The radial head, located at the top of the radius bone in the forearm, plays a crucial role in the elbow’s rotation and bending. A fracture to this area can cause significant pain and limit the joint’s normal function.

Symptoms

A person with a radial head fracture may experience:

  • Severe pain that worsens when trying to turn or bend the arm
  • Swelling around the elbow
  • Difficulty in bending or straightening the elbow
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Bruising

Diagnosis

Diagnosing a radial head fracture involves:

  • Physical Examination: Here, the doctor will check for any signs of injury, swelling, or tenderness.
  • Imaging Tests: These may include X-rays to identify the fracture. In some cases, a CT scan or MRI may be required for a more detailed view.

Prevention

Preventing a radial head fracture primarily involves taking caution to avoid falls. This can include:

  • Using protective gear when participating in sports or physical activities
  • Regularly engaging in exercises to improve balance and coordination
  • Ensuring a safe environment at home to avoid accidental falls

Treatment Options

The course of treatment for a radial head fracture primarily depends on the severity of the fracture.

  • Non-Surgical Treatment: If the fracture is non-displaced (the broken pieces of bone haven’t moved apart), treatment may involve rest, immobilisation with a splint or cast, and physiotherapy to restore elbow function.
  • Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to manage pain.
  • Surgery: If the fracture is displaced or involves multiple broken pieces, surgery may be required. This could involve fixing the broken pieces with screws or replacing the radial head with an artificial one. After surgery, physiotherapy is typically necessary to restore function and strength to the elbow.