Elbow Fracture FAQs

What are Supracondylar humerus fractures?

A supracondylar humerus fracture is a break (aka fracture) in the supracondylar region at the end of the humerus.  This is where the bone is flared out, just above the growth plate. 


There are 3 types of supracondylar fractures: Type I is nondisplaced.  A Type II fracture shows the distal fracture fragment extended, which will impact the range of motion of the elbow (the bones are still touching, but there is some displacement or shift in alignment). A type III involves complete displacement of the fracture fragments. 

What are other common elbow fractures:


A medial epicondyle fracture occurs at the inside (medial aspect) of the elbow.  The muscles that flex the fingers and wrist are attached to this bone. Medial epicondyle fractures may occur with elbow dislocations, and can also happen with overuse that stresses the bone (in pitchers, gymnasts).


Lateral condyle fractures occur on the outside of the elbow, and these fractures involve the growth plate.  


When a medial epicondyle or lateral condyle fracture occurs, the decision for surgical treatment is based on how far the bone is shifted out of place. 

How are Supracondylar fractures treated?

Type 1 fractures can be treated with an above elbow cast for ~4 weeks. 


Type 2 and Type 3 fractures generally require operative intervention in which the bone fragments are pinned into proper alignment. Typically Type 2 fractures receive 2 pins and Type 3 fractures receive 3-4 pins.  The pins hold the bone in the correct alignment for healing & return to full function. 

Why should my child have this fixed surgically?

With displaced fractures, surgery helps to realign the bone into the correct (anatomical) position.  The goal is for your child to regain full range of motion, with the ability to return to previous activity levels, including sports. 

What happens with the elbow pins?

The pins can be removed in the clinic at your 4-week post op appointment. As the fracture forms new bone during remodeling, the pins will naturally be “primed” for removal and will pull out with little to no resistance. 

Will my child need physical therapy?

Children rarely need physical therapy for elbow fractures. Children tend to get their range of motion back quickly over 3-6 weeks once the cast is removed. We recommend utilizing warm water to help loosen scar tissue within the elbow joint, practicing elbow flexion and extension in a hot tub or bathtub to help bring your child’s range of motion return faster.