ZocdocAnswersWhat is wrong with my elbow?

Question

What is wrong with my elbow?

Fell off of a bike and hit my elbow pretty hard on the ground around 2 weeks ago. Still can't seem to straighten it out all the way without pain or stretch it the other way. Could I have a break and not know it? What could be wrong with it?

Answer

There are a few possibilities that could have happened to your elbow from the fall. A significant fall can cause a hematoma which sometimes take a week or more to resolve. This typically does not cause pain lasting for more than a few days, and you would definitely notice an acute swelling. A more sinister finding is fracture of the bones in your elbow. There are 3 bones making up your elbow that can be fractured. Signs and symptoms of a fracture can be significant pain with touch or movement and swelling. The swelling may be minimal in a non-displaced or a minimally displaced fracture. A muscle, tendon, or ligament tear can also present with some of these very same symptoms. There is really no way of knowing without a proper exam, and perhaps a 2-view x-ray of your elbow. A hair-line fracture can often be missed when imaged right after the trauma. However, after 7-10 days your body starts to mobilize a bone-scar around the fracture to try to heal it. At this time, an x-ray will show the obvious bone reaction along the fracture line. Thus, you should really see your primary physician as soon as possible or visit the Emergency Department to be examined and get an x-ray.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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