Elbow Fractures

Elbow Fracture Overview

The olecranon, a part of the ulna forearm bone, is found at the tip of the elbow. An elbow fracture occurs when the olecranon breaks. An elbow fracture will not heal on its own and needs to be medically treated. An appointment with a Carolina Orthopaedic and Neurosurgical Associates’ (CONA) elbow specialist should be made as soon as possible when elbow fracture symptoms are experienced after an elbow injury.

Symptoms & Causes

Elbow fracture symptoms include:

  • Bruising
  • Elbow joint instability
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness

Common elbow fracture causes include:

  • A direct fall on the elbow
  • A direct blow to the elbow
  • A fall on an outstretched arm

Common Treatments:

Nonsurgical treatment options treat nondisplaced (the fractured bone is still anatomically aligned) fractures. After a thorough evaluation, a CONA elbow specialist may recommend:

  • Immobilization in a cast, splint or sling
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Rest and ice

Surgery may be recommended to treat a displaced (the bone is not anatomically aligned) fracture. During an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) procedure, a CONA specialist aligns and fixates the bone so it can heal properly.


A CONA specialist listens to the patient as they explain how the injury occurred and what symptoms they have experienced. If possible, a physical examination of the elbow is performed. X-rays are taken to view the elbow bones. If present, a fracture is diagnosed and classified.

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