Doctors initially treat an elbow fracture using pain medication, ice, a splint and a sling to keep the elbow from moving out of position, states the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. The severity of the fracture dictates future treatment and whether or not surgery is necessary.
A nonsurgical approach to treatment requires resting the elbow and extensive use of a cast or splint, notes the AAOS. Doctors monitor the condition of the elbow with regular X-rays, and patients take part in physical therapy after removal of the cast.
More severe elbow fractures require surgery to place pieces of bone together. The bones are held in place using pins and wires, sutures, screws only, or plates and screws, states the AAOS. After surgery, the elbow may be placed in a splint or cast for a short period of time, and the surgeon typically removes stitches or sutures within 14 days. Physical therapy exercise are a crucial part of healing, and recovering strength can take as long as six months.