Hillary Clinton elbowed out of action after fall, Mrs. Thatcher also orthopedically impaired

Within the past several days, both Hillary Rodham Clinton, 62, and Margaret Thatcher, 83, have suffered broken arms as a result of falls. In Secretary of State Clinton’s case, she broke the elbow of her right arm. Former Prime Minister Thatcher broke the upper bone (humerus) of her arm.

The elbow is a joint where three bones come together. Your upper arm contains one long bone called the humerus and your lower arm contains two long bones called the radius and the ulna. The pointy tip of your elbow is actually part of the ulna and this part is called the olecranon. The close part of the radius bone that makes up part of the elbow joint is called the radial head.


There are many ways you can break your elbow but the two most common types of fracture involve the olecranon (just imagine falling down on the tip of your elbow) or the head of the radius (if you catch yourself falling with an extended hand, this force can twist the radius and crack it near to the elbow joint). The middle image above is an X-ray of an olecranon fracture and the image on the right shows the same fracture before and after surgical repair.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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