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Olecranon fractures

Patient information A-Z

What is an olecranon fracture?

An olecranon fracture is a break in the bony tip of the elbow. This pointy segment of the bone is part of the ulna, one of the bones which come together as part of the elbow joint. The olecranon is positioned directly under the skin of the elbow, without much protection from muscles or other soft tissues.

It can break easily if you experience a direct blow to the elbow or fall on an outstretched arm. A fracture can be very painful and make elbow motion difficult at first.

X-ray showing an olecranon fracture
olecranon fracture


Swelling and bruising at the fracture site is normal. Simple, over-the-counter pain killers and applying ice to the area will help to reduce swelling and pain. Ice should be applied, wrapped in a tea towel, for 20 minutes three to four times a day.

Simple fractures can be treated by wearing a brace on your elbow until your fracture heals.

Some fractures may need surgery to help restore movement and function. This will be discussed with you by your surgeon at your clinic appointment

At your appointment the elbow may be x-rayed again in order to check the position of the fracture.

The shoulder specialist will then discuss further options for managing your injury at this appointment.

You should:

  • take simple, over the counter pain killers as required
  • wear the brace as directed until your clinic appointment

You should not:

  • drive whilst wearing the sling or cast
  • take part in any physical contact sports as guided by the doctor
  • miss your appointment with the upper limb specialist

Please remember:

Please contact your GP if your condition is not improving, or if your pain relief is not adequate.

If your condition is worsening please contact the Multi professional fracture clinic, call 01223 348299 or call 01223 257095.

For more information please visit please visit Fracture Info (opens in a new tab)

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Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151