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Radial Head Fractures

    Radial Head Fractures

    The radial head is one of three bones in the elbow joint.  It is fractured by trauma - most commonly landing on one's outstretched hand to brace a fall.  Radial head fractures can occur in isolation or as part of fractures of the other elbow bones or elbow dislocations.
    The radial head is part of a joint and therefore the severity of the fracture determines how it is treated.  
    Non-operative treatment is possible if the radial head fractures in a way where the shape of the elbow joint is not significantly affected.  Thankfully the majority of radial head fractures are treated non-operatively.  Immobilization of the fracture is discontinued quickly and motion of the joint is encouraged.  Physical therapy is often necessary.
    Surgery is indicated when the radial head fracture significantly alters the shape of the elbow joint.  There are three different types of surgery performed depending on the type of fracture.  1) Removal of the radial head 2) Replacing the radial head with a metal prosthesis and 3) Putting the pieces of the radial head back together and holding them with screws and/or plate.  Physical therapy is necessary after any of these surgeries.