How long does treated supracondylar humerus fracture in children take to recover elbow range?

Abhinav D. D. Jogani, Tushar N. Rathod, Chetan V. Shende, Nandan Marathe


Background: Our goal was to address requirement of physiotherapy after treatment of supracondylar humerus fractures in children and evaluate result of casting on elbow without injury using control group of distal forearm fractures.

Methods: 57 cases of supracondylar fractures were included in this retrospective study and compared with group of 54 children with distal forearm fractures treated with long arm casting for 28 days. Passive elbow ROM was checked with goniometer on day of cast removal, 2 weeks later, and then every month until the elbow ROM returned to 95% ROM (ROM-95) of uninjured side. No physiotherapy was given.

Results: Average time in cast for supracondylar fracture group was 31.8 days and distal forearm fracture group was 32.4 days. The elbow total flexion angle reached a plateau of 139 degrees at 1month after cast removal whereas forearm group required less than 2 weeks. Total rotation ROM required half the time to reach 139 degrees in forearm group. From the paired t test it took more time for pronation to recover than supination in supracondylar fractures. In supracondylar group there was positive correlation between casting period and recovery period of ROM-95 elbow extension (p=0.021) and days of casting (p=0.021) and ROM-95 flexion recovery period. There was no statistically significant impact between casting and recovery period in other directions and recovery of ROM-95 & F-ROM and the subclassification and type of treatment of individual fractures.

Conclusions: Lessons learned: thorough assessment of elbow function post cast removal, lack of need of physiotherapy in management protocol and elbow stiffness is related to initial injury and associated treatment not merely immobilisation.


Physiotherapy, Supracondylar fracture, Forearm fracture, ROM recovery

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