T Nation

Radial Head Replacement


Hey guys,

I had a mountain bike accident which lead me to dislocating my left elbow (it went back into place) but in the process, fratcuring the ulna (2-3 fragments in a few places) and the big one, smashed the radial head.

This lead to an operation (had one of the best elbow ortho. surgeons in Australia do the op) and he replaced my radial head with a titanium number and also cut off about a half inch of radial bone and inserted a 3-4 inch metal spike into the marrow. This is a permament replacement. I am just starting therapy etc and the Doc is amazed at the current recovery but says that i should never lift weights again due to possible arthritic problems down the road...

I assume he is generalising and that there are exercises i could do with no issue, but possibly have to minimise or eliminate closed chain exercises like bench press etc.

Has anyone here had a radial replacement or know of someone who still lifts like a t-man after this replacement ?

Thanks guys... trying to get out of the downer from it happening..

Still training legs though, just cant do deadlifts :slightly_smiling: (YET)




last bump.... anyone?



While I haven't had the same procedure you had, I do have metallic implants in both my forearms. I have had both ulnas shortened due to positive ulna variations which was tearing apart a cartilage complex in my wrist. In my operations, they cut the ulna in half, take out however much bone is needed to relieve pressure, then put it back together with a 5 inch plate and screws.

I had the right arm done about 5 years ago, and the left arm done about 3 years ago. As for activity, I have been a competitive gymnast for about 15 years (I am 23 now). I do not weight train so I can't give you any heads up in that department, however I workout 6 days a week (3-4 hours each) and my workouts consist gymnastics skills, obviously, and lots of bodyweight strength. Many of the skills I work do put tremendous amounts of stress on the arms. Coming back after the surgeries, hanging skills/events (tension in the arms) came back the quickest and I have never really had a problem. Some skills require twisting of the hand which gives a good stretch from time to time, but a tolerance can be built up here. Support skills/events (compression of the arms, as in a pushup for example) have given me some problems...it was much slower coming back in this area. I think the biggest thing that got me through this was working through the pain and building up a work capacity and pain tolerance. Then again, there's the possibility of pushing too far and hurting yourself further. It's a tough call sometimes, and the doctors aren't always right. Coming back from my second surgery, things just weren't improving and the doctors told me to back off. A couple months went by and still no improvement. Despite what they said, I started back in, and things gradually got better bearing through the pain and all.

I hope this helps a little at least, even if you haven't had the same procedure. Let me know if you have further quesitons. I'll be out of town for about a week though.

  • Gatti


That really sucks. Your situation is different from the other poster on here as yours is in a joint, whereas his was in the middle of the bone, so I'm not sure that they are comparable situations. I am always skeptical of any Dr advice that says no weight lifting as I have received this advice in the past when I first had back spasms. The Dr. said it was probably caused by doing stiff leg deadlifts (certainly not the deficiencies of my core muscles and posterior chain that I was trying to strengthen) and that I should not do them again becuase of the stress it puts on the lower back. I followed this advice and kept having back spasms until I said the hell with it and started lifting again. Surprise, the spasms went away. I just find it hard to believe that strengthening the tissue around the joint can be bad for it. All strength training is is performing the body's natural motions with resistance. If you adhere to strict form, I don't see how it hurts.

At the same time, I wouldn't advise going back to doing any presses until you get a second opinion from a rehab specialist or a good strength coach. Drs can be great at fixing problems but they don't always know what they're talking about when it comes to strength training and its effects on the body. Then again, he may be right, but you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Good Luck,


Thanks guys... all input is good to read...

My extension is a problem at the moment, i cant completely straighten my arm as yet, but have also read that I may not be able to. The extension has about 1 inch to go to get straight, although it doesnt seem to be improving at all..

The doc says im healing very very quickly and he is very happy with all movement. I have almost recovered full flexion and rotation (a little to go), although i do have pain on some parts of the rotation and obviously my elbow is still swollen in parts (the type of hard swelling you can press and the dent stays there for a few minutes) and of course my arm is is weaker.

I also found out that i had some ligaments re-attached, so sideways movements that put a lot of pressure on the elbow ligaments hurt at the moment.

The Doc said I should not do any valgus or heavy compression movments in any sport/training.
After giving my doc a quick crash course in what big exercises i would like to do, he has now said that I should stay away from bench press, military press, clean and jerk etc along with things like pitching a baseball etc (lucky it wasnt my throwing arm)...

I would think pain would be an indicator of doing too much... Ie lighter bench etc would be okay, you are right, doc's don't know everything, but are good for guidance at times.

he says any pulling exercise is fine ie BB rows, and lateral raises etc will be fine once the ligaments heal...
so i guess it will just be the heavy compresion exercises that can cause trouble.

what is a valgus movement?


Valgus is an outward turning. The oppisite is varus. For knees, valgus is "knock-kneed" while varus is "bowed."