Olecranon stress fracture

Last revised by Henry Knipe on 9 Dec 2021

Olecranon stress fractures are one of the three types of fractures that may occur in the olecranon in throwing and overhead athletes 1.

Olecranon stress fractures predominantly occur in throwing and overhead athletes including sports such as baseball, gymnastics, weight lifting, tower-diving and javelin 2.

Olecranon stress fractures occur due to a valgus hyperextension overload syndrome secondary to repeated pulling of triceps brachii, and associated microinjury, which exceeds the bone's intrinsic ability to self-repair 1.

Five sites of stress injuries have been described 2:

  • olecranon apophyseal line (skeletally immature)
  • metaphyseal olecranon
  • oblique mid-olecranon
  • transverse proximal olecranon
  • olecranon tip

Fractures may be subtle and not be seen on a radiograph. CT or MRI are both more sensitive in detecting stress responses and fractures 1.

Most stress fractures heal by conservative management. In recalcitrant cases, particularly when non-union is present, surgical management using internal screw fixation may be required 1.

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