10 Broken Elbow Symptoms

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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The elbow joint gives us flexibility and strength when it comes to lifting and handling objects. It is able to take quite a lot of weight and can help us to lift some very heavy objects. Its position, however, means that it can be prone to injury and impacts can lead to breaks.

A break of any of the bones in the elbow joint is likely to be very painful. Such a break can also lead to other symptoms such as a loss in mobility.

Patients will usually make a full recovery from a break of the elbow joint, but they should be sought immediate medical attention. Below are 10 symptoms of a broken elbow to look out for.

Symptom #1: Extreme Pain

We will all feel pain at some point in our lives. It is inevitable that we will pick up bumps, bruises, and other injuries and these can cause us considerable discomfort. The extent of the pain is usually in relation to the extent of the injury, with certain injuries renowned for being more painful than others.

The elbow is one joint that can be especially painful if you were to break it. In addition to intense pain in the area, it can also send shooting pains up and down the arms. The intensity of the pain will likely let you know that it is more than just an average knock.

Broken Elbow

Symptom #2: Swelling

When we pick up an injury that is severe enough, we will often go to a hospital or at least see a doctor. They will help to repair damage and help to ensure we make a full recovery. As much as medical professionals do help, though, most of the healing is done by the body itself.

If you do experience a broken elbow, the body will set about fixing it as soon as possible. This will result in a swelling as materials and white blood cells are sent to the area. The swelling will begin straightaway and can remain for several days or even longer depending on the extent of the injury.

Symptom #3: Discoloration

Another fairly common symptom of injuries is that the skin can become discolored. In many cases, it will take on a bright red color, often because of an increase in the volume of blood flowing in the area. A broken elbow is no exception, so you should expect it to take on a different appearance.

In addition to becoming bright red in color, you may also notice that the skin can take on a different complexion. The skin in the area might also begin flaking off as it dies and is replaced by fresh skin. The area should return to normal once the injury is healed.

Broken Elbow

Symptom #4: Snapping Sound

It takes considerable force to break a bone. What’s more is that the bones in the elbow joint are fairly strong and thick, meaning it takes more energy for them to be broken. This means that when it is broken, we are often able to literally hear the break occurring.

If you heard a snapping sound at the time of the injury, there is a good chance it means something has been broken. Some people will also describe the sound as a popping sound. If you do experience sounds such as snapping or popping then you should let the medical professionals know.

Symptom #5: Stiffness

You are unlikely to want to move your elbow much anyway after an injury as doing so is likely to make the pain worse. Regardless, even if you were to try, you would likely have some difficulty in doing so. The joint will likely become stiff after the injury and this can make it harder for you to move it.

If you have received an injury, you are likely to be placed in a cast for a while. This will help to protect the area and also keep it still, helping it to heal properly. Regardless of whether or not you have a cast, you should give plenty of time for the damage to heal before using your elbow again.

Broken Elbow

Symptom #6: Tightness in Arm

Given the location of the elbow and its function, it should only be expected that a break can cause symptoms in other parts of the arm as well. Depending on the nature of the break, the patient can feel a tightness in the forearm.

Broken bones can cause the ligaments and muscles in the area to become stretched. This will, in turn, cause a sensation of tightness as tissues are affected. You should always remember to tell medical professionals of any such symptom if you are experiencing it. Doing so can help to ensure that you make a full recovery from the injury.

Symptom #7: Numbness

Our nerves go all the way down our arms and into our hands. Here, they help to relay information back to the brain so it can understand more about the world around it. If the nerves are damaged or affected in any way, though, then the ability to touch and feel can be lost.

If you do break your elbow, there is a good chance of trapping or damaging nerves in the area. This can cause numbness and also possibly pins and needles. It is a symptom you should report to medical professionals and you should hopefully be able to make a full recovery.

Broken Elbow

Symptom #8: Bruising

There are blood vessels in the elbow area. After all, blood does need to be transported to the end of the arms and back again. These blood vessels can also be damaged in the case of an injury, and this can cause blood to leak out. Quite often, the leaks will be internal, causing the leaked blood to accumulate within the body.

These leaks do not usually last for long as the body moves swiftly to repair them. The leaked blood will collect just beneath the surface of the skin and this blood will often be visible from the surface. This is what we know as bruising, and it will clear up completely as the injury heals.

Symptom #9: Cuts

The elbow joint is just beneath the surface of the skin. Indeed, fold your arm up and you can clearly feel the joint underneath. This also means that any contact has an increased chance of breaking the skin against the hard bone and cartilage below.

If you have broken your elbow, there is a good chance that the skin will be broken and bleeding may occur. It is important that any bleeding should be stopped as soon as possible, although this will often occur naturally anyway. The skin may be scarred, but the patient is still likely to make a full recovery regardless.

Symptom #10: Visible Break

Quite often, a broken bone will mean a hairline fracture that might only be noticed with an x-ray. The bone will generally remain straight and otherwise intact. At other times, however, the break can be more severe and it can be very noticeable indeed.

In some injuries, the joint can appear physically and severely deformed. It might also cause the bone to protrude through the skin in the area in a symptom that is not for the fainthearted. In injuries of this type, it is necessary to place the bones back into their natural positions before the healing process can begin.

Broken Elbow

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