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Regain Strength and Motion After an Elbow Fracture

If you have fallen on an outstretched arm and fractured your elbow, you want to know how long it will take to get the joint functioning again. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer.
In the elbow, the upper arm bone, or humerus, meets the two bones of the forearm, the radius and the ulna. This creates three separate joints that allow the elbow to make four different movements: flexion, extension, supination (turning the palm face up) and pronation (turning the palm face down).
The complexity of the elbow joint means there is no one-size-fits-all rehabilitation timeline. One thing is certain, however:
Without early physical therapy, the elbow will become stiff, painful and weak, and lose range of motion (ROM).

Factors that can ensure effective elbow rehabilitation include:

  • Age: Younger people usually heal more quickly and often regain complete elbow function.
  • Number of bones involved: Typically, the fewer bones and bone chips/fragments involved, the shorter the time for rehabilitation.
  • Stability of fracture: A stable fracture is likely to stay in a good position to heal on its own. An unstable fracture needs to be fixed in place surgically to heal in proper elbow function, enabling you to resume your normal routine.
  • Collateral damage to ligaments and tendons surrounding the joint: Without soft-tissue damage, rehabilitation will be less complicated.

To successfully rehabilitate an elbow fracture, early ROM exercises are essential. However, the fracture must also be protected against excessive movement for up to six weeks while it heals.
Our experienced physical therapists will work with your physician to develop a rehabilitation program that safely addresses regaining ROM while protecting the fracture. After the fracture has healed, more vigorous stretching and strengthening exercises will help you return to the maximal amount of elbow function, enabling you to resume your normal routine.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
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