Pain, bruising, swelling and numbness are just a few of the symptoms Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is probably feeling after fracturing her right elbow during a fall Wednesday.
Clinton, who took a tumble Wednesday on her way to the White House, is facing surgery to repair her elbow and could be looking at several weeks to a few months of physical therapy depending on the extent of the injury.
Dr. Frank Alberta, an orthopedic surgeon at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey who has not treated Clinton, said there are many types of elbow fractures, but Clinton probably suffered one of the two most common kinds of fractures, depending on how she fell.
“The most common fracture you get from a standing-height fall will either be an olecranon fracture or a radial head fracture,” Alberta, who specializes in shoulder and elbow surgery, told FOXNews.com. “If she landed on her elbow and fell back on the point of her elbow, she most likely fractured her olecrenon, which is the bony point of your elbow. If she fell with her hand stretched out to catch the fall, then it may be a radial head fracture.”
In a statement released late Wednesday, chief of staff Cheryl Mills, said Clinton would undergo surgery in the coming week.
“We like to do surgery within a week depending on the type of fracture,” Alberta said. “We usually don’t do it immediately because we want the swelling to go down.”
In general, elbow surgery can last anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours.
“There’ll be an incision depending on where the fracture is, and we’ll use anything from a plate and screws, all the way up to replacement of the joint to repair the injury,” Alberta said.
As far as recovery, Clinton is facing anywhere from six weeks to three months of physical therapy.
“We like to get patients moving sooner rather than later,” Alberta said. “We encourage movement right away because one of the biggest complications is stiffness, and we want patients to move early and get them going.”
In the meantime, you can plan on seeing Secretary of State Clinton with a splint and sling to complement her pant suit.
The elbow joint is made up of three bones including the humerus, which is the bone between the shoulder and the elbow; the radius, which is one of the forearm bones between and elbow and wrist; and the ulna. The ulna is the other forearm bone between the elbow and wrist.
Alberta said these injuries can be thorny to treat.
“These kinds of fractures can be complicated in terms of getting the motions right,” he said. “You have the flexion-extension movement, which is the hinge motion, and then you have the rotation of the forearm — and again these motions are provided by different bones and different joints.”