Elbow Fractures in Children
Fractures around the elbow are common injuries in children. In fact, 1 out of every 10 fractures in children occur around the elbow joint.
These fractures usually occur when the child falls over and puts out their hand to brace themselves. Elbow fractures particularly occur then a child falls from a height, such as from monkey bars or trampolines.
Types of Fractures
Around the elbow, there are a number of places a children can break the bone.
Above the elbow (supracondylar)
When the humerus (upper arm bone) is broken just above the elbow joint, it is called a supracondylar fracture.
These fractures usually occur in children younger than 8 years of age.
This is the most common elbow fracture, and can be very serious if it involves nerve damage or impairs the blood circulation to the arm.
At the elbow knob (condylar):
This type of fracture occurs through one of the bony knobs (condyles) at the end of the upper arm bone (humerus). Most occur through the outer (lateral) knob. These fractures require careful treatment, because they can disrupt both the growth plate (physis) and the joint surface.
At the inside of the elbow tip (epicondylar):
At the top of each bony knob is a projection called the epicondyle. Fractures at this point usually occur on the inside (medial) epicondyle in children between 9 and 14 years of age.
Growth plate (Physis):
The upper arm bone and both forearm bones have growth plates located near the end of the bone. A fracture that disrupts the growth plate (physis) can result in arrested growth and/or deformity.