Both Bone Forearm Fracture
A broken forearm involves one or both bones in your forearm — the ulna and radius. One of the most common causes of a broken forearm is falling onto an outstretched hand. If you think you or your child has broken an arm, seek prompt medical attention. It’s important to treat a fracture as soon as possible for proper healing.
Treatment depends on the site and severity of the injury. A simple break might be treated with a sling, ice and rest. However, the bone may require realignment (reduction) in the emergency room.
A more complicated break might require surgery to realign the broken bone and to implant wires, plates, nails or screws to keep the bone in place during healing.
Severe pain, which might increase with movement
Deformity, such as a bent arm or wrist
Inability to turn your arm from palm up to palm down or vice versa
Falling onto an outstretched hand or elbow is the most common cause of a broken arm.
Direct blows and injuries on the field or court cause all types of arm fractures.
Any of your arm bones can break during a car accident, bike accident or other direct trauma.
In children, a broken arm might be the result of child abuse.
Treatment of a broken arm depends on the type of break. The time needed for healing depends on a variety of factors, including severity of the injury; other conditions, such as diabetes; your age; nutrition; and tobacco and alcohol use.
Fractures are classified into one or more of the following categories:
Open (compound) fracture. The broken bone pierces the skin, a serious condition that requires immediate, aggressive treatment to decrease the risk of infection.
Closed fracture – The skin remains unbroken.
Displaced fracture – The bone fragments on each side of the break aren’t aligned. Surgery might be required to realign the fragments.
Comminuted fracture -The bone is broken into pieces, so it might require surgery.
Greenstick fracture – The bone cracks but doesn’t break all the way — like what happens when you bend a green stick of wood. Most broken bones in children are greenstick fractures because children’s bones are softer and more flexible than are those of adults.
Buckle (torus) fracture – One side of the bone is compressed, which causes the other side to bend (buckle). This type of fracture is also more common in children.
Setting the bone
If you have a displaced fracture, the doctor might need to move the pieces back into position (reduction). Depending on the amount of pain and swelling you have, you might need a muscle relaxant, a sedative or even a general anesthetic before this procedure.
Restricting movement of a broken bone, which requires a splint, sling, brace or cast, is critical to healing. Before applying a cast, the doctor will likely wait until the swelling goes down, usually five to seven days after injury. In the meantime, you’ll likely wear a splint.
The doctor might ask you to return for X-rays during the healing process to make sure the bones haven’t shifted.
To reduce pain and inflammation, the doctor might recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever. If your pain is severe, you may need a prescription medication that contains a narcotic for a few days.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help with pain but might also hamper bone healing, especially if used long term. Ask the doctor if you can take them for pain relief.
If you have an open fracture, in which you have a wound or break in the skin near the wound site, you will likely be given an antibiotic to prevent infection that could reach the bone.
Rehabilitation begins soon after initial treatment. In most cases, it’s important, if possible, to begin some motion to minimize stiffness in your arm, hand and shoulder while you’re wearing your cast or sling.
After your cast or sling is removed, the doctor might recommend additional rehabilitation exercises or physical therapy to restore muscle strength, joint motion and flexibility.
Surgery is required to stabilize some fractures. If the fracture didn’t break the skin, our surgeon might wait to do surgery until the swelling has gone down. Keeping your arm from moving and elevating it will decrease swelling.
Fixation devices — such as wires, plates, nails or screws — might be needed to hold your bones in place during healing. Complications are rare, but can include infection and lack of bone healing.
CONTACTING DR. PERLMUTTER
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