(Broken Arm; Radial Fracture; Ulnar Fracture)
by Mary Calvagna, MS
A forearm fracture is a break in one or both bones of the forearm.
The forearm consists of two bones:
A forearm fracture is caused by trauma to the bone. Trauma includes:
Risk Factors TOP
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease, condition, or injury. Risk factors for a forearm fracture include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, your physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The doctor will examine the injured area.
Tests may include:
Treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Treatment involves:
Devices that may be used to hold the bone in place while it heals include:
The doctor may prescribe pain medication depending on the level of pain. Your doctor will order more x-rays while the bone heals to ensure that the bones have not shifted position.
When your doctor decides you are ready, start range-of-motion and strengthening exercises. Attention will be directed to the fingers and the shoulder so that you maintain motion in these critical joints. You will be referred to a physical therapist to assist you with these exercises. Do not return to sports until the fracture is healed and you have regained normal muscle strength and arm mobility.
It takes about 8-10 weeks for a fractured forearm to heal. If the fracture has an open wound over it, the healing time will be longer.
If you are diagnosed with a forearm fracture, follow your doctor's instructions.
To help prevent forearm fractures:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Broken arm. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00078 . Updated July 2007. Accessed July 7, 2009.
Osteoporosis and fracture. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.n.... Updated January 2012. Accessed July 7, 2009.
Last reviewed September 2012 by John C. Keel, MD
Last Updated: 09/28/2012