How is a broken elbow diagnosed in children?

After discussing your child's symptoms and medical history, your doctor will perform a careful examination of your child's arm to determine the extent of the injury. He or she will look for:

  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Limited movement
  • Change in color in the hand, an indication that circulation has been affected

During the physical examination, your doctor will also check to see whether any damage to the nerves or blood vessels has occurred.

X-rays provide clear images of dense structures such as bone. An x-ray will indicate what kind of fracture has occurred, and whether the bones have angulated or moved out of alignment (displaced). Because a child's bones are still forming, your doctor may request x-rays of both arms for comparison.