Certain medical conditions may increase the risk of a fracture around the elbow. For example, osteoporosis increases the risk of fracture in many older adults. Not everyone with a fractured elbow needs surgery. If possible, your doctor will treat your elbow fracture with more conservative treatments, like pain medicine, splints, and slings.
However, in certain patients, surgery may be needed. Surgery typically involves exposing the fractured bone, reducing it into the correct position and fixing it with implants like plates and/or screws. This procedure is also known as Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF).
If you fracture the bones around your elbow, you might need ORIF to bring your bones back into place and help them heal. During an open reduction, orthopedic surgeons reposition your bone pieces during surgery, so they are back in their proper alignment. In a closed reduction, a doctor physically moves the bones back into place without surgically exposing the bone.
Internal fixation refers to the method of physically reconnecting the bones. This might involve special screws, plates, wires, or nails that the surgeon places inside the bones to fix them in the correct place. This prevents the bones from healing abnormally. The entire operation usually takes place while you are asleep under general anesthesia.