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Exercises for a fracture around the elbow

What can I do to get the movement back in my elbow?

Once your cast has been removed, your elbow can feel stiff and painful to move. It is important to start using your arm normally again as soon as possible. At first, there will be some restrictions on sports, and you should ask your consultant what you are allowed to do.

What if my elbow remains stiff and painful?

If the movement is not improving within the first 2 weeks, then you may need to do some exercises to help reduce the pain and stiffness.

What exercises can I do to improve the movement?

When walking, avoid holding your arm bent up close to your body.

Elbow extension (straightening)

Starting position: Lay flat on your back with your arm relaxed on the bed as straight as is comfortable with pillows supporting your forearm.

Illustration of person laid on their back with their arm propped up on two pillows

Remove a layer of support and allow your arm to straighten further. Stay in this position for a minute whilst your arm relaxes into the stretch.

Illustration of person laid on their back with their arm propped up on one pillow

Repeat this until you feel your arm is as straight as it will go.

Illustration of person laid on their back with their arm laid by their side with their palms up

Try to remain relaxed throughout this exercise and let gravity work on your arm to straighten it.

Elbow flexion (bending)

While lying down on your back or sitting up, bend your elbow as much as is comfortable, then relax. You can use your other hand to provide gentle assistance. Repeat 10 times.

Illustration of person with their arm in front of their chest, bent at the elbow, and holding their wrist

Pronation and supination (twisting the wrist)

Start with your elbow bent at 90 degrees, tucked into the side and palms facing upward. Turn your palm outward, away from your body to feel a stretch in your hand and arm. Repeat this 10 times. You can use your other hand to help this movement.

Illustration of person with their elbow tucked into their waist, and twisting their wrist

When walking avoid holding your arm bent up close to your body.

How often should I do these exercises?

Repeat all exercises five times a day. All the exercises should only be within a comfortable range.

Information:

Do not push yourself into pain. If you experience any pain or adverse effects from the exercises, please stop doing them and contact your physiotherapist or consultant.

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Disclaimer

Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: PT7

Resource Type: Article

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