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Broken elbow - still can’t straighten arm

(22 Posts)
Polarbearflavour Tue 16-Jan-18 19:12:33

I fractured my elbow 5.5 weeks ago, x-rayed and sling for 2 weeks. No follow up at fracture clinic.

Pain has almost gone and can semi use arm. But the elbow won’t straighten? I think I’ll make a GP appointment and I guess I need physio but they’ll be a long waiting list unless I go privately.

OP’s posts: |
AdaColeman Tue 16-Jan-18 19:19:45

When I fractured my elbow it was a slow job to get the full range of movement, straightening etc back. I worked hard at it, with exercises every day for at least two months.
It's best not to rush or overwork a broken elbow as that can cause related problems.

How is the movement in your wrist and hand? I found therapeutic putty very helpful in getting the fine movement back in my hand and fingers.

CompletelyUnknown Tue 16-Jan-18 19:21:15

My mum fractured hers 10 years ago and can only get it 90% straight. She worked bloody hard for that as well

raspberrysuicide Tue 16-Jan-18 19:31:01

I fractured my elbow 10 years ago and I still can't straighten my arm properly. I'm just used to it now!

Polarbearflavour Tue 16-Jan-18 21:08:37

So basically I’m going to be deformed for life? I don’t want to be a drama llama but that’s depressing sad

OP’s posts: |
Draylon Tue 16-Jan-18 21:33:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Polarbearflavour Tue 16-Jan-18 21:35:39

It is visibly deformed though and just hangs by my side looking silly and not doing much. I have full hand function still.

OP’s posts: |
JohnHunter Tue 16-Jan-18 22:00:20

Presumably it was a radial head fracture if you were treated in a sling and not followed up? If so, a fifth of patients lose the ability to straighten their arm in the long-term. This is usually only the last few degrees, though, and doesn't usually cause them substantial problems.

That said, 5.5 weeks is still quite early days. You will probably have a lot more improvement to come over the next few months. The key is to keep the elbow moving. By all means arrange some physiotherapy (NHS through your GP or privately) but don't wait for this to happen. There are some good videos on YouTube to get you started.

combatbarbie Tue 16-Jan-18 22:35:57

I am 4 weeks into a radial fracture and cannot straighten. Had my first physio yesterday who said it was perfectly normal and gave me some exercises to help before we go onto strengthening. They say it can take up to 12 months for full control.

theredjellybean Tue 16-Jan-18 22:37:02

You need urgent physio.. I started physio 1 week post Break

PoopMaster Tue 16-Jan-18 22:38:58

Hi OP I broke my elbow a couple of years back and when I went sling-free could hardly move it (90 degrees). Was really upset and thinking "omg is this it?"

Anyway I was started trying to push against it to straighten, was referred for physio pretty quickly on NHS and then realised I'd been quite tentative (they really go for it whereas I guess I was afraid of damaging it). First session massive improvement but still quite a way to go, then a bit more movement with other sessions.

Eventually we got to a point where it was 80% there and not moving any more and I kind of resigned myself to using my other hand to reach things on a shelf (the only impact on my life). What's interesting is that I realised a year or so later that by carrying shopping/lifting kids/generally going about my life I actually gained a bit more extension, so now I'm probably 90%. I probably won't compete at the Olympics in anything but otherwise life is pretty good, and if nothing else the experience has been "character-building".

Hope you get physio soon anyway, and then make sure you do the homework they set you.

Polarbearflavour Tue 23-Jan-18 18:13:02

Thanks all - I have a GP appt to ask for a physio referral.

OP’s posts: |
13lucky Sat 03-Feb-18 22:18:33

My dd was in a solid cast for 6 weeks following fracturing her elbow and still held it at 90 degrees when the cast came off! I thought she would do that for life! She is hypermobile so it looked even more weird because the otherelbow over-extended by so much. It took a long while but I can assure you that now - 2 years on - the elbow that was fractured over-extends even more than the other one now! (ie fixed and more!) Give it time

Fozzleyplum Sat 03-Feb-18 22:23:36

I had a complex fracture of my olecranon about 10 years ago. It was repaired with a tension band wiring, which was later removed. I have never recovered a full extension in that elbow, despite lots of exercises as it was healing. Prior to the break, it hyperextended.

claraschu Sat 03-Feb-18 22:24:38

If you can afford it I would go to the best private sports physio you can find. It is so worth it. NHS physio was so bad with my son's knee injury- utterly useless. The doctor assured us that the NHS physio was all he needed.

When we finally went privately, it was another world. He got all his strength and flexibility back, and cured the associated back pain.

charliebear78 Sun 04-Feb-18 17:53:52

I broke my Elbow two years ago now-I needed a pin putting in also.
I was told by the surgeon that I would never get it fully straight.
I had physio pretty quickly afterwards and carried on with my exercise routine using light weights until I could build up to heavier ones-even now I have some weakness in that arm but I would say I can straighten it 95% and much more than I ever expected(or was lead to believe)
Get some physio booked in and expect it to take some time.

Polarbearflavour Wed 28-Feb-18 18:41:41

Update - GP reckons the fracture hasn’t set properly. I’ve had a couple of physio seasons but hasn’t improved. I’ve been referered to orthopaedics.

OP’s posts: |
lljkk Thu 01-Mar-18 09:26:12

They will xray & see how to fix it. Try not to despair. It's fixable.

Celticrose Fri 09-Mar-18 15:49:14

I have managed to break both elbows right one 2013 and left one 2016. The right one was the worst. Very painful. After 2 weeks at the fracture clinic review I was asked did I want physio. Yes please. After maybe 5 or so sessions I was able to touch my shoulder and reach behind my neck to put on a necklace.
You need to do the exercises but so worth it. I still get a pain sometimes when I reach to get something from a cupboard but am realising that has not been happening so much lately. You will get there.

DollyMcDolly Fri 09-Mar-18 16:01:30

I've just recovered from a fractured elbow. I didn't have a sling at all as they said that my elbow would seize up and I wouldn't be able to straighten it and trying to would be painful. I was able to straighten it fully after 4 weeks. It was a radial head fracture I had.

Busyworld Wed 02-May-18 14:41:37

Have you had another update. I broke my radial head 4.5 weeks ago. I cannot fully straighten my arm. I also get pain in my wrist and hand. I haven’t been back to fracture clinic since I broke it.

Temyluvphagyt Fri 11-Oct-19 17:20:04

My toddler broke her elbow and just got the cast removed but the elbow is yet to be straightened. The orthopaedic surgeon assured me the elbow will be straight with time but I'm loosing my patience. She feels pain whenever i try to assist her to straighten it. I get so worried as i can't wait for the elbow to be back to normal.

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