Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment questions for doctor specialist Home Care pain in adults pain in children ring removal warning signs Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

Elbow Fracture Home Care

Home care for an elbow fracture may include:

  • Apply a cold compress:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Rest the injury
  • With some elbow injuries you may wish to wear a sling for comfort:
    • Long term immobilization in a sling can lead to frozen shoulder.
    • If you wear a shoulder sling for longer than two weeks make sure you perform shoulder range of motion exercises twice a day to avoid frozen shoulder.
  • Do not use your arm until your doctor directs you to do so.
  • Follow your doctor's care instructions for your cast or splint.
  • Elevate your arm:
    • Above your heart if possible.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Elbow Fracture Pain in Adults

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with an elbow fracture include:

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.





NSAID Precautions

Elbow Fracture Pain in Children

Common medications used at home for pain in children with an elbow fracture include:

Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.



Elbow Fracture Ring Removal

Remove rings immediately after an elbow fracture, because it is difficult to remove the ring if the finger becomes swollen. Sometimes, the finger becomes so swollen that the ring must be removed with a ring cutter. The following will help you remove a ring from a swollen finger.

Ring Removal

  • Elevate the finger above the heart and apply a cold compress for 15-20 minutes.
  • Lubricate the ring:
    • Apply soapy water to the ring.
  • Ask another person to pull the skin tightly away from the ring, and then try to twist the ring off gently.
    • Stop if this causes pain or skin damage.
  • If this does not work, loop a piece of thin string or ribbon under the ring on both sides of the finger. Ask another person to grab the ends of both strings. Have the person pull equally on the ends of each string, while you gently twist the ring.

Reducing Finger Swelling
In order to reduce finger swelling, you may wrap a wide rubber band around the finger. Start at the tip of the finger and wrap towards the ring. Overlap the edges of the rubber band as you wrap the finger. After 5 minutes, remove the rubber band and try to remove the ring.

Do not wrap the finger with a rubber band if:

Seek medical care immediately for:

Elbow Fracture Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have an elbow fracture and any of the following:

If you are placed in a cast or splint, notify your doctor for:

Continue to Elbow Fracture Outlook

Last Updated: Feb 15, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Elbow Fracture References
  1. Ring D, Jupiter JB. Fracture-dislocation of the elbow. Hand Clin. 2002 Feb;18(1):55-63. [12143418]
  2. Saati AZ, McKee MD. Fracture-dislocation of the elbow: diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Hand Clin. 2004 Nov;20(4):405-14. [15539096]
  3. Skaggs DL, Mirzayan R. The posterior fat pad sign in association with occult fracture of the elbow in children. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1999 Oct;81(10):1429-33. [10535592]
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