Radial Head Fracture.

UW Medicine Hand Center
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Radial Head Fracture.

Radial head fractures most commonly occur after a fall onto an outstretched hand. The radius is one of the bones in the forearm, and the radial head is significant in elbow movement and rotation. Typically, you may notice pain on the outer aspect of your elbow. It is particularly painful when attempting to rotate the forearm.

Radial head fractures are diagnosed using a physical examination and x-ray imaging. Most radial head fractures can be treated with a sling for comfort. It is important as the pain decreases to work on maintaining elbow motion and forearm rotation to prevent development of a contracture (a loss of motion in a muscle group). However, some radial head fractures do require operative treatment. Surgery will generally be required if the bony fragment prevents elbow motion or if there is significant displacement of the fragment. Surgical treatment entails either fixing the fracture with a small plate and/or screws, or replacing the radial head with a metal component. Which surgical treatment procedure depends largely the number of fracture fragments, and your surgeon will help determine which procedure is best for your situation. After surgery, physical therapy is required to maintain elbow motion.

Radial head fractures most commonly occur after a fall onto an outstretched hand Figure 1