Radial Head Fractures

Radial Head Fractures
February 8, 2016

redial-headHaving successfully treated many patients with radial head fractures in his 25 years of experience in the field of shoulder and upper extremity Dr. Vikas indicates that, “Radial head fracture is a traumatic injury. Sometimes a fall or shielding yourself from falling may become the reason for the radius bone in the forearm to break. The upper end of the radius bone along with the upper arm forms the outer part of the elbow. Therefore it becomes essential to treat Radial head fractures adequately else they might leave a permanent deformity in your elbow and some serious complications.”

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An expert at conducting over 6000 surgeries, Dr. Vikas indicates that radial head fractures are more commonly seen in women than men and occur mostly in adults i.e. ranging from 30 to 40 years of age. Talking about symptoms he stresses, “If you feel persistent pain in your forearm or in your elbow joint along with swelling and stiffness it is advisable to consult an orthopedic as it might be a fracture of the radial head. Trying to even rotate your arm or moving the palm up and down may cause intense pain.”

Being the first surgeons in India to treat complex radial head fracture by ceramic radial head replacement Dr. Gupta says, “There are various degrees of fracture depending on the displacement of the radial bone. It may either crack in small parts or get broken severely, damaging the tissues and ligaments near the elbow joint. We ascertain the quantum of the damage after thorough examination and then validate our findings by X- ray or in very rare cases by CT or MRI scan.”

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Currently heading as Head, Shoulder and Hand Division, MAX Saket & Gurgaon, former Director of ‘The Hand & Upper Extremity Surgery’ at The Medanta Institute of Bone & Joint Disease, Gurgaon, Dr. Vikas emphasizes, “Relatively speaking treatment of radial head is simple and starts with psychotherapy sessions where movement in the patients elbow through simple exercises is tried to be retrieved. The orthopedic also continues with oral medication along with the exercises. Splinting and putting elbow in a sling is common procedure of treatment for appropriate weeks in a fracture that has resulted in only small cracks. Surgical repair is customary for multiple fractures in radial head and the tissue damage.”

“We sometimes replace the irreparable radial head with an artificial one so that movement of the elbow and functioning of adjoining parts can be regained. Elbow has a loss of movement even in a minor fracture but being treated by a skillful and efficient surgeon can restore elbow working even if it has been severely been traumatized.” Dr. Gupta says as having treated one of the largest series of head replacement in India.

FAQ – Radial Head Fractures

There are two bones in our forearm; the ulna and the radius. The upper end of the radius bone is called the radial head which along with the upper arm bone (humerus) forms outer half of the elbow joint.
When an injury causes your radius bone near elbow joint to break or cause dislocation of elbow, it is known as radial head fracture. It can happen by a simple fall on your arm or while trying to shield yourself from falling by taking support of your arm.
The most common signs of Radial Head fractures are pain, swelling and stiffness in your elbow and difficulty in trying to move your forearm. It is also very painful when you rotate your arm in the palm up and palm down position.
Your doctor will question you about how you injured your elbow and then will conduct a thorough physical examination of the affected joint. Thereafter he will have an X-ray done of the joint to confirm that you have fractured your Radial Head. Usually the fracture is visible in the x-ray but to confirm any other severity your doctor might go in for a CT or MRI scan.

There are three types of radial head fractures depending on the displacement of the radial bone from the joint.

TYPE 1: fracture where the cracks are very small and the bones are still joint to each other and are not visible on X-ray in the first instance.

TYPE 2: fracture which affects a larger area of bones and displaced more than fracture type 1.

TYPE 3: multiple broken bones which cannot be put back together without surgery.

Depending on the type of fracture your doctor will decide on the treatment technique and take into consideration other factors such as your age, your profession, any other injury you have sustained and your medical history.

Non-surgical Treatment-

Your orthopedic will put your elbow in a ‘collar or cuff’ sling or tie a splint around the fracture for a few weeks and recommend some exercises to help you to restore your movement gradually. He will also put you on oral pain killer medications.

Surgical Treatment -

In cases of large bone displacement your orthopedic will first try and fix your bones together with screws or plates but if the problem persists then he will perform a surgery and remove the broken pieces of your radial bone.

In cases of severe damage, your orthopedic will remove your radial head completely and also repair the damaged tissues and ligaments around it through surgery.

Your worn out radial head might also be replaced by an artificial radial head in some cases to help long term functioning of the elbow joint.

Though your movement restoration depends on the severity of your fracture still it usually starts functioning normally after a few months of surgery.
Posted in Condition & Treatments by admin