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Radial Head Fracture Elbow Rehabilitation Exercises

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

If you have fallen on an outstretched arm, you may be suffering from an elbow radial head fracture. This type of fracture can limit your ability to use your arm in work-related activities or sports.

Physical and occupational therapy can help you fully recover from a radial head fracture. They can work with you to restore the range of motion in your elbow, strengthen your arm muscles and reduce pain and swelling.


If you are looking for a therapist to help rehabilitate your elbow, contact our orthopedic experts at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow. Our physicians are ready to help. Contact our office in Marietta or Atlanta, Georgia today for quality rehabilitation treatments you can trust!

About Elbow Radial Head Fractures

Three bones meet to make up your elbow joint. They are your upper arm bone, called the humerus, and your forearm bones, the ulna, and the radius.

The radial head is the end of your radius bone that meets at the elbow. Its shape is cylindrical, which allows your forearm to rotate your hand up and down. The radial head is supported by a ligament called the annular ligament, which helps keep the bone in its place.

Falling on an outstretched hand (also known as a FOOSH injury) can cause the radial head to fracture. A radial head fracture can make it difficult for you to bend or straighten your elbow and twist your forearm to turn your palm up or down.

How Therapy Can Help With an Elbow Injury

A physical or occupational therapist will closely accompany your rehabilitation and give you the appropriate rehab exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles in your arm at the appropriate time.

The following exercises may be included in your treatment plan. You should always start each exercise slowly and never push yourself if you experience pain.

Elbow Flexion Stretch

  1. Lift your affected arm, and bend your elbow. Your palm should be facing toward you.
  2. With your other hand, gently push on the back of your affected forearm. You should feel a stretch on the back of your upper arm as you push your hand toward your shoulder.
  3. Hold the stretch for at least 20 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Hand Flips

  1. While sitting, place your affected forearm on your thigh. Your palm should be facing down.
  2. Rotate your hand so the back of your hand rests on your thigh, and your palm is facing up. While keeping your forearm on your thigh, alternate between palm up and palm down.
  3. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Pronation and Supination Stretch

  1. Bend your affected elbow at 90 degrees and keep it by your side. Make a fist or grip onto something like a pen or pencil.
  2. Slowly turn your forearm back and forth until it reaches its comfortable limits. Your hand should be facing up and then facing down.
  3. As you rotate your forearm, you should hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

A key part of your treatment is follow-up care. Your therapist will want to ensure that the exercises given are according to the stage of your rehabilitation.

How Long Will Recovery Take?

Therapy programs for a radial head fracture can last up to 12 weeks. You may regain your full range of motion after 8 weeks. Occupational therapy will help you to restore shoulder and elbow mobility, upper arm strength, and normal arm function.

However, there is a possibility that your elbow’s range of motion will not return to normal after a radial head fracture, despite your best efforts and the help of your occupational or physical therapist.

Get Help for Your Elbow Pain Today!

If you are looking for a therapist to help rehabilitate your elbow, contact our orthopedic experts at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow. We have offices conveniently located in Marietta or Atlanta, Georgia. Schedule an appointment with one of our skilled specialists today!

Medically reviewed by

Randall Alexander, MD