General Guideline Principles for Elbow Fractures

including Non-Displaced Radial Head Fractures

for workers compensation patients

The New York State workers compensation board has developed these guidelines to help physicians, podiatrists, and other healthcare professionals provide appropriate treatment for Elbow Fractures, including Non-Displaced Radial Head Fractures.

These Workers Compensation Board guidelines are intended to assist healthcare professionals in making decisions regarding the appropriate level of care for their patients with ankle and foot disorders.

The guidelines are not a substitute for clinical judgement or professional experience. The ultimate decision regarding care must be made by the patient in consultation with his or her healthcare provider.

Elbow Fractures, including Non-Displaced Radial Head Fractures

Falls are the main cause of elbow fractures. Most radial head fractures result from falls onto an extended hand. Surgical referral is necessary if the fracture is big, displaced, or comminuted (Type III), or if there is a significant fracture with a displaced fragment (Type II). Rare capitellar fractures typically result from falling onto an extended hand.

Although non-operative treatment is occasionally attempted, the majority of cases are thought to need surgical fixation. These fractures frequently require surgical treatments.

Diagnostic Criteria of Elbow Fractures, including Non-Displaced Radial Head Fractures

On the basis of the victim’s medical history, the proper damage mechanism, and the physical examination’s significant tenderness, especially concentrated over a bone, a clinical impression is formed. It is important to look for evidence of elbow (in)ability and conduct a deformity inspection.

Generally two or three views of an x-ray with a fracture identified validates that initial impression. The differential diagnosis prominently includes elbow sprain and dislocation. The following test is typically a CT if the x-rays are negative and clinical suspicion is strong.

Special Studies and Diagnostic and Treatment Considerations of X-rays for Elbow Fracture

Special Studies and Diagnostic and Treatment Considerations of X-rays for Elbow Fracture are recommended To identify elbow fractures, X-rays with at least two to three views are advised.

Initial Care of Elbow Fractures, including Non-Displaced Radial Head Fractures

Cast Immobilization/Splints and Slings

For many years, elbow and other fractures have been treated using casting. Slings have been used to treat radial head fractures that are not dislocated.

  1. Elbow Slings for Non-displaced and Occult Radial Head Fractures Elbow Slings for Non-displaced and Occult Radial Head Fractures

    Elbow Slings for Non-displaced and Occult Radial Head Fractures Elbow Slings for Non-displaced and Occult Radial Head Fractures are recommended for the treatment of occult and non-displaced radial head fractures.

    Indications – Occult fractures and non-displaced fractures of the radial head. Occult fractures are invisible on x-rays, but they can be suspected if there is evidence of effusion or if the elbow cannot fully extend.

    Frequency/Dose/Duration – For non-displaced radial head fractures, a sling (or splint) is worn for seven days. (For non-displaced fractures that are clinically apparent but not visible on an x-ray, a shorter complete immobilisation time of as low as three days may be employed.) After seven days, gradual mobilisation should start, followed by modest range-of-motion activities within pain tolerance.

     

  2. Casts and Cast Bracing for Select Elbow Fractures

    Casts and Cast Bracing for Select Elbow Fractures are recommended for the treatment of occult or nondisplaced radial head fractures.

    Indications – Casting, cast bracing, or post-open reduction internal fixation fractures were thought to be appropriate treatments for elbow fractures with minimal displacement.

    Frequency/Dose/Duration – Typically, casts must be worn for six weeks or until on x-ray, sufficient healing is seen. Following a successful recovery, they progressive mobilisation should come next.

  3. Medications of Elbow Fractures, including Non-Displaced Radial Head Fractures

Ibuprofen, naproxen, or other NSAIDs from an earlier generation are suggested as first-line treatments for the majority of patients. For patients who are not candidates for NSAIDs, acetaminophen (or the analogue paracetamol) may be a viable alternative, even if the majority of research indicates it is just marginally less effective than NSAIDs.

There is proof that NSAIDs are less dangerous and just as effective in treating pain as opioids, such as tramadol.

  1. Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for Treatment of Acute, Subacute, Chronic, or Post-Operative Elbow Fractures

    Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for Treatment of Acute, Subacute, Chronic, or Post-Operative Elbow Fractures are recommended for the treatment of elbow fractures that are postoperative, chronic, subacute, or acute.

    Indications – For post-operative, chronic, subacute, or acute elbow NSAIDs are advised for the treatment of fractures. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications could work well and ought to be tried first.

    Frequency/Duration – For these indications, there is no solid proof that one NSAID is superior to another. Many patients could find it reasonable to use as needed.

    Indications for Discontinuation – The easing of elbow pain, a lack of effectiveness, or the appearance of side effects that require stopping the treatment.

     

  2. NSAIDs for Patients at High Risk of Gastrointestinal Bleeding

    NSAIDs for Patients at High Risk of Gastrointestinal Bleeding are recommended Misoprostol, sucralfate, histamine Type 2 receptor blockers, and proton pump inhibitors are commonly used together by individuals who are at high risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

    Indications – Cytoprotective drugs should be taken into consideration for patients with a high-risk factor profile who also have indications for NSAIDs, especially if a prolonged course of treatment is planned. Patients who have a history of gastrointestinal bleeding in the past, the elderly, diabetics, and smokers are at risk.

    Frequency/Dose/Duration – H2 blockers, misoprostol, sucralfate, and proton pump inhibitors are advised. dosage recommendations from the manufacturer. It is generally accepted that there are no significant differences in effectiveness for preventing gastrointestinal bleeding.

    Indications for Discontinuation – Intolerance, the emergence of negative effects, or the stopping of NSAIDs.

     

  3. NSAIDs for Patients at Risk for Cardiovascular Adverse Effects

    NSAIDs for Patients at Risk for Cardiovascular Adverse Effects are recommended The first-line treatment options of acetaminophen or aspirin seem to be the safest in terms of cardiovascular side effects.If necessary, non-selective NSAIDs are recommended to COX-2-specific medications.

    To reduce the chance that an NSAID will negate the protective effects of low-dose aspirin in individuals receiving it for primary or secondary cardiovascular disease prevention, the NSAID should be taken at least 30 minutes after or eight hours before the daily aspirin.

     

  4. Acetaminophen for Treatment of Elbow Pain

    Acetaminophen for Treatment of Elbow Pain is recommended for the treatment of elbow discomfort, especially in patients who have NSAID contraindications.

    Indications – All patients, including those with acute, subacute, chronic, and post-operative elbow pain.

    Frequency/Dose/Duration – As per the manufacturer’s recommendations; can be used as required. Over four gm/day, there is evidence of liver toxicity.

    Indications for Discontinuation – resolution of discomfort, negative effects, or intolerance.

     

  5. Opioids for Select Patients with Pain from Elbow Fractures

    Opioids for Select Patients with Pain from Elbow Fractures are recommended for the treatment of a few people who have elbow fracture discomfort.

    Indications – Choose patients who have severe pain from an elbow fracture that has not responded well to previous treatments, such as acetaminophen and NSAIDs, or who have NSAID contraindications. Opioids may be needed for pain control in patients with more severe fractures or in the first few days following surgery. Opioids should be used with extreme caution, and just the bare minimum of doses should be provided because elbow fractures typically only require short-term care.

    Frequency/Dose – as required. The majority of the few individuals who use opioids only require treatment for a few days to a week at most and typically don’t have enough pain beyond that to warrant continued opioid use.

    Indications for Discontinuation – undesirable effects, use that deviates from prescription consumption guidelines, and pain relief that is adequate to avoid the need for opioids.

Surgery of Elbow Fractures, including Non-Displaced Radial Head Fractures

Although it is thought that displaced fractures and fracture fragments need surgical treatment with fixation, there are no reliable data on displaced fractures. Radial head excision and/or radial head implant may be necessary in cases of widely displaced fracture and/or comminuted pieces.

There are some people who may be better candidates for surgical treatment of elbow fractures than others (e.g., those with extensively displaced pieces, those who need to recover more quickly, such as professional sports, and those with the dreaded triad). The orthopedist and patient must agree on whether to operate on elbow fractures.

Surgical Fixation of Displaced Elbow Fractures

Surgical Fixation of Displaced Elbow Fractures are recommended for displaced elbow fractures, surgical fixation is advised.

Therapeutic Exercise (Active and Passive)

Rehab (supervised formal therapy) needed after a work-related injury should be concentrated on regaining the functional ability needed to meet the patient’s daily and work obligations and enable them to return to work, with the goal of returning the injured worker to their pre-injury status to the extent that is practical.

Active therapy calls for the patient to put in an internal effort to finish a particular activity or assignment. The procedures known as passive therapy rely on modalities that are administered by a therapist rather than the patient exerting any effort on their side.

Passive therapies are typically seen as a way to speed up an active therapy programme and achieve concurrently objective functional gains. Interventions that are active should be prioritized over those that are passive.

To sustain improvement levels, the patient should be advised to continue both active and passive therapies at home as an extension of the therapeutic process.

To facilitate functional gains, assistive devices may be used as an adjuvant measure in the rehabilitation strategy.

Physical or Occupational Therapy of Patients After Cast Removal

Physical or Occupational Therapy of Patients After Cast Removal are recommended after cast removal.

Frequency/Dose/Duration – With verification of continued objective functional progress, the total number of visits could be as low as two to three for individuals with minor functional deficits or as high as 12 to 15 for those with more severe deficits.

If there is evidence of functional improvement toward particular objective functional goals (e.g., enhanced grip strength, key pinch strength, range of motion, or improving capacity to execute work activities), more than 12 to 15 visits may be necessary to address persistent functional impairments. A home exercise regimen should be created as part of the rehabilitation strategy and carried out alongside the therapy.

Indications for Discontinuation – Resolution of elbow discomfort, intolerance, lack of effectiveness, or non-compliance, including failure to perform the recommended at-home exercises.

What our office can do if you have Elbow Fractures

We have the experience to help you with their workers compensation injuries. We understand what you are going through and will meet your medical needs and follow the guidelines set by the New York State Workers Compensation Board.

We understand the importance of your workers compensation cases. Let us help you navigate through the maze of dealing with the workers compensation insurance company and your employer.

We understand that this is a stressful time for you and your family. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us so we will do everything we can to make it as easy on you as possible.

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I am fellowship trained in joint replacement surgery, metabolic bone disorders, sports medicine and trauma. I specialize in total hip and knee replacements, and I have personally written most of the content on this page.

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