Elbow Fracture Clinical Presentation

Updated: Jan 22, 2016
  • Author: Daniel K Nishijima, MD, MAS; Chief Editor: Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH  more...
  • Print


Mechanism of injury for most elbow fractures is direct elbow trauma or a fall onto an outstretched hand. Patients may experience the following:

  • Pain

  • Swelling

  • Decreased range of motion



A thorough neurovascular examination is vital in the assessment of elbow fractures because of the high incidence of neurovascular injuries with elbow fractures and the subsequent long-term complications with these injuries.

With supracondylar fractures, the incidence of anterior interosseous nerve injury is high, and specific muscle testing of flexion at the distal interphalangeal joint of the index finger should be performed. [10]

Patients often have decreased range of motion, and pain is present with pronation/supination of the forearm.

Edema and ecchymosis near the elbow may be evident.

Perform careful shoulder and wrist examinations with all elbow injuries.