Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I called my Sweetheart on the way home from clinicals today, asking if I needed to pick the kids up on my way home. She said that we had something to talk about...really? That is almost as bad as a woman saying, " We need to talk." I firmly believe that no conversation ended well with that opening line, but I digress. (I've always wanted to work that into a conversation)

She had fallen at boot camp this morning (yeah, she pays someone to make her workout at 5:00am -  I just don't understand her sometimes) and was hurting when she came in at 6:00ish. Sweeteheart called me at 8 wanting to know about some muscle relaxers. Anyways, she went to the doctor after a few more hours, and got diagnosed with a fractured radial head.

A quick anatomy lesson is that the radius is one of the two long forearm bones. The radius is located on the thumb side, and the head of the radius is located next to the elbow. The arrows point to an image of a radial head fracture that was available on Google.

The other long forearm bone is the ulna, and the anatomical head of that bone is located near the wrist, and also has a rounded end.

  • Broken, cracked, or fractured all mean the same thing, that the integrity of the bone is no longer intact. One term is not worse than another. 
  • Fractures can be displaced or non-displaced, and this attempts to explain whether the bones are aligned properly. Some amount of displacement is allowed depending on which bone is broken and where in the bone the break occurs. The body can remodel bones as they heal, so displaced does not automatically equal having to "set" the bones.
  • Setting means reducing or realigning the bones so they look and function better. The vast majority of fractures that have to be reduced will have that procedure done under anesthesia. And sometimes, bones that appear well aligned right after the injury may move and then require reduction later on.
  • Finally, if the skin over the fracture is lacerated or torn, this is considered an open fracture and will need to be cleaned out, because outside world has invaded the break and the risk of infection is high.

The coarse of treatment is pain management, and RICE. Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation above the heart, is an anagram to help reduce swelling. This is an important treatment that can be used for pulled muscles, sprained ligaments, joint aches, or soft tissue damage. Basically, it reduces the blood flow to the area that has been injured.

Rest: Stop using the injured body part immediately. If you feel discomfort when you move, this is your body sending a signal to decrease mobility of the injured area. 

Ice: Apply an ice pack to the injured area, using a towel or cover to protect your skin from frostbite. The better that the ice pack fits - the better. In a grid down situation, the chemical Instant Ice Packs would be an excellent item to have in your first aid kit. 

$3.99 for two

Compression: Use a pressure bandage or wrap over the ice pack to help reduce swelling. Never tighten the bandage or wrap to the point of cutting off blood flow. You should not feel pain or a tingly sensation while using compression. 

Elevation: Raise or prop up the injured area so that it rests above the level of your heart. 

Sweetheart is on the couch with the arm resting on two pillows with a ice pack underneath her elbow. No cast was needed, but her arm will be in a sling for a while to make her more comfortable. She will start working on her range of motion within a week.

Keep Right On Prepping & Learning - K