Let's assume we have a type 1 closed fracture in the coronoid process:

The treatment is to immobilize that joint in plaster. However, the patient should also limit their movement.

I wonder why is that, when by definition the joint is immobilized? As long as there is no pressure on the surrounding bones (e.g. carrying objects with that arm) I though movement of irrelevant bones (e.g. walking) will not affect the healing process. Yes, there are swinging if the arm is hung before chest, but it's the movement of the whole arm, and the joint is still fixed.

Is there any factor that affect the healing process, beside immobilizing the fractured location?

A minor question: if arm swinging is the problem, then would eliminating that swing by attaching the whole arm to the body be fine?

1 Answer 1


By immobilization of the elbow you are just keeping the elbow joint in place, which means the forearm does not move in the relation to the upper arm.

But there are other things that can move the coronoid process:

  • The movements in the shoulder joint, wrists and fingers in which the muscles attached to the humerus or ulna are involved
  • The movements of the body that shake the bones, such as running and jumping
  • Carrying things in the hand and anything else what pulls the ulna down
  • Pushing objects or anything else what pushes the ulna up

So, by casting, you can't 100% immobilize the olecranon.

  • assuming the patient doesn't use the arm to push or pull anything, which means the last two points are eliminated. And assuming the arm is tied to the body. Does that mean there is no shoulder movement, and there is no shaking when they walk?
    – Ooker
    Jun 15, 2019 at 8:50
  • Walking will always cause some shaking, but I can't say how much it would affect the healing of a broken coronoid process. You don't need shoulder movements to shake your coronoid process; it's just hitting the ground with your heels. I can imagine that arm positions when sitting and lying down could result in even more movements of the coronoid process. In general, tying the arm to the body decreases the use of that arm, so it may provide more rest to the coronoid process. An experienced orthopedist could tell more.
    – Jan
    Jun 17, 2019 at 14:21
  • 100% immobilization is not necessary. Micro-motions stimulate bone growth
    – kit
    Jul 6, 2019 at 22:37

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