Distal Humerus Plate Fracture
A Distal Humerus Plate Fracture is a fracture to the growth plate at the end of the upper arm bone which forms the top part of the elbow joint. This injury occurs in children and is caused by a traumatic incident such as a fall or impact.
Symptoms of a Distal Humerus Plate Fracture
- Sudden pain on impact.
- Loss of movement at the elbow.
- Swelling usually develops rapidly.
- The elbow may appear deformed.
The growth plates (epiphysis) of long bones such as the humerus are found at the ends. In children and adolescents this area is cartilage, rather than bone. As our skeletons reach maturity, the cartilage ossifies, hardening to bone. Because these are the last areas of bone to harden, they are more at risk of injury in children as the ligaments supporting the joint are stronger than the bone itself.
As with most fractures, this injury occurs most frequently following a fall onto the arm or elbow. A direct force or impact to the elbow may also cause this injury.
- If a fracture is suspected, visit a Doctor asap.
- An X-ray will be used to try diagnose the injury, although as the growth plate is still cartilage it may not show and so an MRI may be better.
- Treatment depends on the extent of the fracture and any displacement.
- Minor fractures may simply require casting to immobilise the joint for 4-6 weeks.
- Fractures where the bones are displaced will require mobilisation either manually (using the hands to manipulate them back into place) or via surgery. A cast is then used so the bones can heal in place.
- In some severe cases, the parts of bone are pinned together during surgery.
- After the immobilisation period, exercises should be performed to regain full movement and strength.