Non-surgical functional treatment for displaced olecranon fractures in the elderly

Bone Joint J. 2014 Apr;96-B(4):530-4. doi: 10.1302/0301-620X.96B4.33339.


We retrospectively evaluated the clinical and radiological outcomes of a consecutive cohort of patients aged > 70 years with a displaced fracture of the olecranon, which was treated non-operatively with early mobilisation. We identified 28 such patients (27 women) with a mean age of 82 years (71 to 91). The elbow was initially immobilised in an above elbow cast in 90° of flexion of the elbow for a mean of five days. The cast was then replaced by a sling. Active mobilisation was encouraged as tolerated. No formal rehabilitation was undertaken. At a mean follow-up of 16 months (12 to 26), the mean ranges of flexion and extension were 140° and 15° respectively. On a visual analogue scale of 1 (no pain) to 10, the mean pain score was 1 (0 to 8). Of the original 28 patients 22 developed nonunion, but no patients required surgical treatment. We conclude that non-operative functional treatment of displaced olecranon fractures in the elderly gives good results and a high rate of satisfaction.

Keywords: Conservative; Elbow fracture; Elderly patients; Functional treatment; Non-surgical treatment; Olecranon fracture.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Casts, Surgical
  • Elbow Injuries
  • Elbow Joint / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Fracture Fixation / adverse effects
  • Fracture Fixation / methods*
  • Fractures, Bone / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Bone / rehabilitation
  • Fractures, Bone / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Olecranon Process / diagnostic imaging
  • Olecranon Process / injuries*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Radiography
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome