Orthopedist Questions Elbow Injuries and Disorders

I am experiencing slight numbness and some pain after my elbow fracture surgery. What could be the reason?

I recently underwent elbow surgery, 3 weeks ago. However I am experiencing pain and some numbness. What could be the reason? Is this normal?

8 Answers

Not normal, you have nerve pressure.
This is difficult to answer not knowing the exact type of fracture or surgery you may have had. But with elbow surgery increase in pain and some numbness in the area of the surgery is to be expected.
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This can be a lot of things, from swelling, too tight a dressing, pressure from a brace or even a nerve entrapped in the surgical/fracture site. You should contact your surgeon to be evaluated right away and correct the problem. If it’s just numbness around the incisions, that is common. See your surgeon to be sure it’s not something to correct.
Yes it is very normal. Pain is normal and expected after surgery, especially for a broken bone. It is likely that your nerves were bruised and/or stretched in the injury, which may be one cause of numbness. In addition, swelling from surgery can compress the nerves and cause numbness. In the vast majority of cases, it resolves with time.
Yes, that can all be normal. Surgery is a treatment and not a cure. Therefore, you may never be completely pain-free after surgery. With that written, there are many types of pain. A sharp, stabbing pain is different than a throbbing, aching pain. The pain during healing and during the rehab therapy to regain all your motion is not uncommon and almost necessary.

The numbness is also not uncommon. Sometimes it depends on what type of surgery was performed. During the surgery, the tissues may become swollen and inflamed. Also, sometimes the nerves get stretched out in order to reach the bone or to get inside the joint. Nerves are very delicate structures. If they get stretched, swollen, or compressed during the surgery, it may take 4-8 (or even 12-16) weeks for the nerves to return to baseline. Rarely, some numbness remains forever. This can occur when the nerves of the skin are cut when an incision is made. There is no way to avoid that.

I encourage the usage of vitamin B complex vitamins for those suffering from nerve-related pain after surgery.

I hope this helps. Stay optimistic, positive, and motivated. Listen to your doctor and therapist, and work hard to get the best outcome possible after the surgical treatment you received.

David T. Neuman, MD
Totally normal. Either the little skin nerves or one of the main nerves around the elbow were bruised at the time of injury. The numbness should subside over the next few months.

Good afternoon. I’m very sorry to hear you fractured your elbow. Elbow fractures are challenging injuries to manage. They require close follow up and usually extensive physical therapy. The symptoms you’re describing can be quite typical after elbow fracture surgery. I recommend you let your surgeon know about the symptoms. The surgeon will be able to counsel you appropriately. I wish you the best of luck in your recovery
It is possible that there is an entrapped nerve. I would recommend speaking to your Orthopaedic surgeon about your concerns.