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How Long Is Radial Head Fracture Recovery Time?

May 15, 2017

The radius bone is a bone that starts from the elbow and extends all the way down to the wrist. Like every other bone, this one is also prone to breaking. Some of the most common fractures of it are fractures of the radial head. The radial head is the part of the radius bone located at the very top of it, right below the elbow. This fracture could be caused by falling with your arms outstretched. If your radial head is broken, you are probably wondering how long it will take to heal.

Radial Head Fracture Recovery Time

Most fractures take 6-8 weeks to heal. Swelling and pain could last from one to two weeks. If the fracture is small and there isn't a lot of bone movement, you will probably wear an arm supporting splint for two to three weeks.

If the fracture is more on the serious side, seeing a bone specialist, otherwise known as an orthopedist, might be necessary. Certain fractures require surgeries so that:

  • Plates and pins responsible for keeping the bones in place can be inserted.
  • Broken pieces of bones can be replaced with metal parts.
  • Torn ligaments can be repaired.

Tips for Better Recovery After Radial Head Fracture

Self-Care at Home

You can subdue swelling by:

  • Applying ice to the place of injury. Wrap the ice in a towel before putting it on the arm to avoid skin damage.
  • Maintaining the injured arm at the level of the heart

For pain relief, you can use over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

  • To shorten radial head fracture recovery time, talk to your doctor about any concerns that you might have, such as whether you can take the above-mentioned drugs if you are suffering from high blood pressure or heart disease.
  • You cannot take more than the recommended amount of these drugs.
  • You cannot give any aspirin to kids.

Closely follow all splint-related instructions that your therapist gives you, such as:

  • When you can begin moving your elbow
  • When you can start taking off the splint prior to showering

Make sure your splint stays dry.

When to Call the Doctor

Contact your doctor if:

  • You feel pressure/pain in your elbow.
  • You experience tingling.
  • Your skin becomes red/swollen.
  • You cannot properly bend your elbow after the removal of the splint.

Activity

  • Start using your elbow as soon as you are told to do so as it may help you regain the full range of motion faster. Only start using it to play sports when your doctor gives you an all clear.
  • Physical therapy could be necessary if you are dealing with a severe fracture.

Rehabilitation Exercises After Radial Head Fracture

Below you can find some of the good exercises for this condition that can slightly accelerate radial head fracture recovery time. You just have to rely on your physiotherapist as to when to start working out your arm and which exercises work best. Also, slowly get into each exercise and remember to take it down a notch if you experience any pain.

1. Active Forearm Stretch

Forearm stretches are a great way to strengthen the radial head after you have broken it. While doing this exercise, you can either be standing or sitting in a chair with your back straight.

  • Now, bend the elbow of your injured arm towards the front and make sure that the palm of your hand is turned upwards so that it faces the ceiling.
  • Then, turn your hand the opposite side so that the palm of it is facing towards the floor.
  • One set of this exercise includes 10 repetitions of it and it should be repeated twice a day.

2. Active Elbow Stretch

  • Just get into a standing position with your arms right at your sides and your elbows as straight as possible.
  • Then, to actually kick off the exercise and speed up radial head fracture recovery time, slowly begin bending the elbow of your injured arm towards the front.
  • Continue bringing it up all until you can comfortably touch your shoulder, and then slowly bring your arm back to the starting point.
  • One set of these stretches includes 10 repetitions and should be done twice a day.

3. Wrist Flexion

This exercise is a great way to strengthen your elbow’s muscles, and it's up to you to choose whether to complete it while sitting or standing.

  • Place a can or a weight into your hand, and then while holding it, bend your wrist slowly towards the ceiling.
  • Hold for three seconds, and then bring your wrist down and repeat 10 times.
  • Do this exercise twice a day; however, if you find it too easy, you can bring it up a notch by holding a heavier item.

4. Forearm Pronation and Supination

In order to complete this one, you will need to use a hammer.

  • Now, hold it in your hand and position your elbow at an angle of 90 degrees.
  • As for your hand, it should be in a neutral position, with your thumb turned upwards.
  • Now, turn your hand into a supination position which is the position in which the palm of your hand is facing the ceiling.
  • Then, move the hand into a pronation position which is the one with the palm of your hand facing the floor.
  • Ten repetitions make one set and it is essential you do three of them a day.