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Radial Head Fracture & recovery

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Radial Head Fracture & recovery

Postby rhyang » Fri May 01, 2009 6:47 am

About 6 weeks ago I sustained a non-displaced fracture of the radial head, in other words a broken elbow. The doc said in cases like mine they don't splint or cast it so that the joint doesn't get stiff.

X-rays a couple of weeks ago shows the facture healing, and I seem to have most of the ROM back, though it's still kind of sore sometimes. Flexion seems good, but I think it's missing a little extension, which I understand is common ..

Anyway, he said I could lift weights and climb on toprope without things being too worrisome - apparently 'controlled loading' helps bones to heal. I'm also doing daily ROM ( flexion / extension).

This is gonna sound like whining, but what are people's long-term experiences with this kind of injury ? Did you end up losing some extension, and did this negatively impact your climbing or did you manage to work around it ?

:evil: :(
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Postby Steve Larson » Fri May 01, 2009 1:49 pm

In my experience with various injuries, ROM tends to come back slowly, especially in "problem" areas. It took well over a year to get full ROM after shoulder surgery. You might ask Laura--she's a PT and seems to be willing to give out free advice.

On the other hand, it could have been worse. You could have done something really bad, like break your neck. Then you're looking at a much more complicated and lengthy recovery...
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Postby rhyang » Fri May 01, 2009 3:04 pm

Thanks guys !
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Postby MoapaPk » Fri May 01, 2009 3:54 pm

When my ROM gets corrupted, I just flash it.
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Postby The Chief » Fri May 01, 2009 4:05 pm

Rob...

You bust more shit on your body than I do. WTF??????
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Postby rhyang » Fri May 01, 2009 4:23 pm

Rick, I've been riding mountain bikes since 1992. Every year or two I fall off. Usually it's not such a big deal ..

This time, I was riding on the road from my house to a nearby trailhead, a route I've taken many times .. after going through a stoplight I somehow botched the clip and ended up falling off the bike, landing on my left elbow, whacking it against the pavement.

Sure, it hurt .. but I figured no big deal, just a little bruised. Kept riding for about an hour. After a while I encountered another cyclist with a flat tire and gave him my spare tube (trail karma). Then I realized just how much my elbow had stiffened up and was hurting. Decided to turn around.

It took me about a week of tylenol, ibuprofen, ice and denial before I went to see a sports / ortho doc :oops:

--
My left leg / arm are permanently weakened and I have balance issues as a result of my spinal cord injury, so I have to be extra careful doing things like riding a bike. I managed to get out & ride last week, this time with decent clipless pedals on that bike (instead of the crappy old ones it used to have) and .. elbow guards ! :lol:

Last week I was lifting weights and bouldering in the gym, and this week I've been toproping. I guess I'm a little frustrated about having to seemingly start all over again .. my lats and tris feel like utter shit.. it's like I lost 3-4 months instead of just one. And my elbow doesn't extend all the way any more.

Boo-fucking-hoo. I need a little cheese with this whine :oops: I need to keep training and do my ROM.
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Postby John Duffield » Fri May 01, 2009 6:32 pm

I'm sure I sound like a broken record here, but there's nothing, I know like Yoga, to constantly probe your ROM limits. Not only that, but when I've been doing 4 - 5 sessions a week I even get the tingling I associate with nerve re-generation. I've kept the sciatica at bay with it for years. Mixing up with a Pilates session to get at the little muscles, is even better.
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Postby rhyang » Fri May 01, 2009 7:00 pm

I've been doing Iyengar yoga almost daily since 2000 - great stuff. Had to stop for about a month to let my elbow heal .. felt great to get back to it.

But nerve regeneration ? Only peripheral nerves regenerate (those outside the brain and spinal cord), and that's a very slow process (less than 1 mm per day). I get the impression that sciatica is caused by compression / irritation of peripheral nerves.

btw I have to deal with decreased ROM while doing yoga as it is .. my neck doesn't turn anywhere near as far, being fused from T1 to C5, and I don't dare do inverted poses anymore (such as shoulderstands).
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Postby John Duffield » Fri May 01, 2009 7:45 pm

Iyengar, is the one with the blocks? They gave me enough blocks and got me into a split. What a scream!

I usually do Bikram, though I often do various Hatha blends. I like Ashtanga or a good Vinyasa Flow practice at the third level.

When I break something, about two years later, the nerves tingle as they do a final healing. I'm not sure what to call it, but it always happens around two years later. I freak out at first but it goes away.

I've also had to stop doing head, hand and elbow stands because of nosebleeds from breaking my nose about 4 times. Aggravates it.
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Postby lisae » Fri May 01, 2009 10:19 pm

Rob, one of my sisters broke her elbow as a kid. Her ROM is still effected, but she stopped doing her pt as she hated it. She also broke one of her cervical vertebrae in the same accident that led to the broken elbow. But the break was never diagnosed (I don't think they even took x-rays of her spine) until she developed arthritis as an adult.

Healing is tiresome. My advice is be patient and keep working on the ROM.
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Postby SeanReedy » Sat May 02, 2009 2:47 am

Last month I shared with Rob about the bike accident with radial head fracture that I experienced about seven years ago. Also, my aunt suffered an accident and injury very similar to Rob's when she was a teenager. She has no complaints, but is not very active.

I seem to have made close enough to a full recovery that I hadn't thought about the injury for years. I don't recall exact details, but I'd guess that everything, including muscle strength, was 99% back to normal within 6-12 months. I MIGHT have permanent range of motion loss, but it is so minor that I don't ever think about it. If any permanent injury really exists, I don't ever notice it or think about it. I recall that heavy weight lifting led to minor soreness for years, but strenuous exercise makes me sore in enough places that I don't dwell on the elbow injury. I do recall sudden loss of grip in my hand while the injury was still healing.

Rob, every injury and individual is unique to some extent, but I suspect and hope that this time next year you won't be having any negative thoughts due to your elbow. It sounds like you are doing good activities to prevent range of motion loss. This is not a doctor's recommendation, but bouncing around on wave runners a few weeks after the injury seemed to be good range of motion therapy for me.
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Postby rhyang » Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:31 am

Well, one month later I seem to be regaining some of that muscle strength I lost after a month off climbing (and other upper body stuff). The elbow is coming along .. I can now manage several pullups, and can swing ice tools again. I guess it's just going to take time.
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Postby The Chief » Fri Jun 05, 2009 2:33 pm

Keep up the effort and attitude Rob!

Went down to the Gorge yesterday and did some high .10's and an .11a. The knee felt strong and solid. I attribute it to my constant working out and pos attitude during the recovery. I am off to the A-Hills tomorrow for the weekend and will push even harder on some more difficult lines.

Just don't ever quit my friend!
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Postby Yeti » Fri Jun 05, 2009 4:04 pm

I had the same fracture when I was 16, also from a mountain biking spill. Perhaps I was lucky, because I have no lasting problems from it. I didn't even have any sort of rehabilitation, just a simple splint for a week or two and instructions to 'take it easy but keep moving it".
My chassis healed better when iwas 16, though. I'd hate to break something now. lol
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Yea Rob

Postby Deltaoperator17 » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:15 pm

The Chief wrote:Rob...

You bust more shit on your body than I do. WTF??????


What Rick said, you are getting dinged up a lot the last two years! Go a little slower, be more careful???

The picture of you after your car accident walking down a trail with the head contraption on has got to tell folks you don’t give up but if you don’t stop breaking things, you eventually won’t have a choice.
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