Jock Doc

Elbow fracture can be hard to see on X-ray

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

Read more Health stories from the Miami Herald

  • Plastic Surgery 101

    Plastric surgery 101: Puffy eyes can happen to younger people

    Q. I'm 25 and hate the way my eyes look! I know that I'm going to need to get my eyes done but am I too young? I have very puffy eyes in the morning and during the rest of the day they remain puffy. Is there anything I can do now or do I have to wait until I am in my 40s?


    Jock Doc: New advances in hip-replacement surgery can help in the long term

    Q. I have been having hip pain that has gotten worse for several years. I saw my orthopedic surgeon, who said I had bad arthritis and needed a new hip. I have been reading online about minimally invasive hip surgery, robotic hip surgery and traditional hip surgery. Do you have any advice on what I should do?

  • Fit Tip

    Fit tip: Do compression sleeves work?

    Q: I twisted my knee recently. Do compression sleeves work to help recover from an injury? 

Miami Herald

Join the

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