Olecranon Fracture (elbow)

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What has happened?

  • You have broken a bone in your elbow
  • This is a relatively common fracture and it usually does not require surgery

What should I expect?

  • You will have been placed in a cast  in ED, and given a sling for comfort
  • After your initial follow up appointment your cast will be removed and you will be placed in either a arm brace with limited movement or a sling for a further 3-4 weeks
  • Your elbow will feel sore and swollen, and you may develop bruising down your arm and into your fingers

What should I do?

  • Take regular pain relief (e.g. paracetamol and ibuprofen) as needed
  • Keep your shoulder, wrist, and fingers moving as often as you can
  • Keep your plaster cast dry at all times by putting a plastic bag over your cast and securing it with tape before showering. A wet cast will get soggy and fall apart
  • You may find it more comfortable while sitting or sleeping to prop your arm up on 1-2 pillows
  • Gentle elbow movements may be started after 1-2 weeks

What should I not do?

  • Avoid heavy lifting while injured
  • You may be unable to drive at this time
  • Try to reduce or stop smoking as this may delay bone healing

Will I be followed up?

  • Yes, a follow-up appointment in the Orthopaedic Clinic will be requested when you leave ED and you will be contacted regarding a date and time

What if I have concerns/questions?

  • If your injury is not settling or you have other concerns, you should see your GP in the first instance - take your ACC form/number with you
  • Please seek medical attention if you experience the following:
    • Increasing pain in the hand
    • Numbness or tingling in the hand
    • Your fingers go cold or turn blue white, in comparison to the other hand
    • You are unable to move your fingers