Jock Doc

Elbow fracture can be hard to see on X-ray

 

HarlanS@baptisthealth.net

Q. I was working out and tripped over a bench and fell on my left elbow. I am not sure if I heard a crack but it was immediately painful and it swelled. I went to the emergency room and had X-rays and was told it was just a bruise.

The injury was two weeks ago but my elbow is still painful and I cannot move it all the way. Why is it not yet back to normal and do I need to see a doctor?

Falls on the elbow can result in a bruise, as you were told, but can also result in a fracture or ligamentous injury. Sometimes the initial X-rays do not show the fracture and if you are still having pain and limitation of motion I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon or upper extremity specialist for repeat evaluation and likely X-rays and possibly even a magnetic resonance imaging scan.

The most common fracture that sometimes can be missed on initial X-rays is a radial head fracture. An untreated fracture may result in limitation of motion, particularly limited extension and rotation of the elbow and forearm. Most radial head fractures that are significantly not out of place can be treated with physical therapy and gentle motion exercises.

Other possible diagnoses include a ligamentous tear, bone contusion, or bursitis. These injuries respond best to treatment when initiated soon post injury and I recommend you see the doctor as quickly as possible.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Email your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net

Read more Health stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category