Have you ever broken or fractured your arm? Arms are one of the most common parts of the body that may sustain fractures throughout your life. The most common fractures occur in your humerus, radius, or ulna. A fracture can greatly limit your ability to perform basic day-to-day tasks because to treat it your doctor will need to wrap your arm in a plaster cast to keep it still so it can heal. However, if you're prone to frequent fractures, you may have a bone condition such as osteoporosis.
Causes of Arm Fracture
Most arm fractures result from falls or other types of trauma forceful enough to fracture or break the bones in your arms. In some cases, fractures result from osteoporosis and other conditions that affect your bone health.
Symptoms of Arm Fracture
Arm fracture symptoms vary depending on what arm bone you fractured. For example, if you have a fracture on your humerus, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Swelling, bruising, and pain in your upper arm
- Limited motion in your shoulder and upper arm
- Tingling in your arm
- Shortening of your arm compared to your uninjured arm
- Deformity in your injured arm
- In rare cases, a fractured bone may be visible through your broken skin (open fracture)
If your fracture is in the bones of your forearm, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Pain, tenderness, swelling, and limited motion near the break
- Limited mobility
- Tingling in your arm
- Forearm deformity
- Numbness in or near your hand or wrist
- Open fracture
Diagnosis of Arm Fracture
If you think you may have an arm fracture, schedule an appointment with your doctor so he or she can review your symptoms. During your appointment, your doctor may ask the following questions:
- How you injured your arm
- Your medical history, especially if your arm was previously injured
- Date of your last tetanus immunization
Next, your doctor may examine your injured arm and check for:
- Limited motion
During the exam, your doctor will press gently along your arm to help pinpoint spots of tenderness and may order X-rays to see better where the fracture is so he or she can properly treat it.
Treatment of Arm Fracture
Once diagnosed with an arm fracture, there are a few ways your doctor may choose to treat it. Fortunately, most fractures don't require surgery and often heal fine with splints, casts, or functional braces.
In severe cases, you may need surgery if you have an open fracture or another type of bad break. When this happens and you need surgery to treat your fracture, your doctor will repair the break with screws, metal rods, or plates. After undergoing surgery, you will usually undergo physical therapy. Physical therapy is necessary to help restore normal range of motion in your arm and shoulder.
Prognosis of Arm Fracture
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to help heal arm fractures. Small fractures usually heal up after a month or so, while more severe fractures requiring surgery may take months to heal completely. That's not counting the months of physical therapy often needed to help restore full function and strength of your arm again.