A forearm fracture is a break in one or both bones of the forearm.
The forearm consists of two bones: Radius—the smaller of the two bones, runs along the thumb side of your armUlna—the larger of the two bones, runs along the little finger side of your arm
Forearm Fracture with Swelling
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
A forearm fracture is caused by trauma to the bone. Trauma may include: Fall on an outstretched armFall directly on the forearmDirect blow to the forearmTwisting the arm beyond the elbow's normal range of motion
Factors that may increase your risk of forearm fracture include: Advanced ageOsteoporosis
Certain diseases or conditions that result in bone or mineral loss, such as abnormal or
menstrual cycles, or post-
menopauseCertain diseases and conditions that weaken bones, such as tumors or cystsPoor nutritionCertain congenital bone conditionsDecreased muscle massParticipating in contact sportsViolence
A forearm fracture may cause: Pain, often severeTenderness, swelling, and bruising around the injuryDecreased range of motionA lump or visible deformity over the fracture site
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, your physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The doctor will examine the injured area.
Imaging tests may include: X-rays
to look for a break in the forearm area.
to look at the cartilage and tendons around the forearm. In complex fractures of both bones, it may be used to help reconstruct the bones.
Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your forearm. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:
Extra support may be needed to protect, support, and keep your forearm in line while it heals. Supportive steps may include a spint, brace, or cast. A sling may be necessary to help stabilize your arm.
Some fractures cause pieces of bone to separate. Your doctor will need to put these pieces back into their proper place. This may be done: Without surgery—you will have anesthesia to decrease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into placeWith surgery—pins, screws, plates, or wires may be needed to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place
Children’s bones are still growing at an area of the bone called the growth plate. If the fracture affected the growth plate, your child may need to see a specialist. Injuries to the growth plate will need to be monitored to make sure the bone can continue to grow as expected.
Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be given to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Medications may include acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Check with your doctor before taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
Healing time varies by age and your overall health. Children and people in better overall health heal faster. In general, it takes up to 10 weeks for a fractured forearm to heal.
You will need to adjust your activities while your forearm heals, but complete rest is rarely required. Ice and elevating the leg at rest may also be recommended to help with discomfort and swelling.
As you recover, you may be referred to physical therapy or rehabilitation to start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. Do not return to activities or sports until your doctor gives you permission to do so.
If you have a forearm fracture, follow your doctor's
To help reduce your chance of a forearm fracture, take these steps: Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car.
and strengthening exercises
regularly to build strong bones.
Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.
To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps: Clean spills and slippery areas right awayRemove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs, and clutterUse non-slip mats in the bathtub and showerInstall grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tubPut in handrails on both sides of stairwaysWalk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and hallsKeep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.