Thursday , June 18, 2009
By Karlie Pouliot, Fox News
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."
Posted June 18, 2009 2:30 PM
by Mark Silva
For all those conspiracy theorists out there, the broken elbow that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suffered in a fall in the basement of the State Department en route to her car, en route to the White House, in the company of ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who wanted the top job at Foggy Bottom in the first place, is rife with possibilities.
Clinton had recently crossed swords with the Israeli foreign minister over the question of territorial settlements.
"I can see the conspiracy theories are starting already,'' State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said today, fielding questions about the break heard 'round the world. "We await the movie and the dramatization.''
The State Department also didn't divulge the chief diplomat's accident until near midnight, though it happened before dinnertime Wednesday. They wanted to get the story straight, they say.
Clinton is recovering with her family at home today. State suggests that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who campaigned to make her president last year, is teaching her to write with her left hand.
"Last night... Secretary Clinton was preparing to depart the State Department for a meeting at the White House and fell in the basement as she was walking towards her car, and she suffered a fracture of her right elbow,'' Crowley told reporters today.
She was treated at nearby George Washington University Hospital before heading home late last night, and faces surgery for a "simple'' break in the week ahead.
This precluded an appearance at a world refugee event today with actress Angelina Jolie, and as of now, with President Barack Obama bound for a summit of the Group of Eight industrial nations in Europe next week, the secretary's own schedule is up in the air.
Obama was among the first to call her last night.
Clinton was said to be resting and "working from home'' today. She is quickly getting accustomed to the break - "how well you can text with one arm in a sling,'' Crowley noted.
She fell at about 5 pm Wednesday, State says. She and Holbrooke, specialist for the crisis in Afghanistan and Pakistan now, were together, heading for a meeting at the White House. After the fall, she returned to her office upstairs and it was determined that she'd need to go to the hospital for an X-ray.
"So if this happened at 5:00, why did it take until 12:55 to put out something about it?'' Crowley was asked.
It wasn't quite that late, he said. "She got back to her house at roughly 10:00. She took a call from the president shortly thereafter. I know we started to work on a statement, you know, sometime in the next hour, and put it out as quickly as we could.''
"Sorry, it wasn't 12:55,'' the reporter said, "it was 11:55.''
"Yes sir,'' Crowley said. " We thought it appropriate to get complete facts before we informed the public and the media.''
Asked about the break, he said, "I don't think it was a severe break, you know, which is why I think, you know, she will have the surgery in the coming days. But how it affects her -- I mean, you all know Hillary Clinton. She's already probably plotting how to get back to the office as quickly as possible. And we're just going to assess this on a day-to-day basis.
"My impression is, it was a fairly simple, straightforward fracture,'' he said. As for the where's and the how's of the fall, he said:"You know, given that the boss fell in the building, I'm sure this actually will be thoroughly investigated.''
It wasn't clear if she had reached the garage when she fell. "Whether it was in the basement -- she was en route to her car -- actually, precisely where it happened, I do not know.''
Clinton, too, is not the first Obama Cabinet secretary to suffer an injury. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is likely to be calling on Clinton soon, Crowley suggested - "to say, 'here's how you dress with one arm.''
Both Clinton's husband and daughter Chelsea returned to Washington last night to be with her.
Crowley said: "I suspect her husband this morning is trying to teach her how to write left-handed.