Treating Your Broken Arm
Your arm is made up of three bones: the radius, the ulna, and the humerus. When one or more of these bones become fractured, it can lead to pain, swelling, and even deformity. Our orthopedic specialists can treat a broken arm through treatments such as immobilization, physical therapy, or surgery. We will first assess the severity of the injury during a consultation at our Cedar Park, TX, office or another one of our Austin-area locations.
Immediate Effects of a Fracture
In many cases, individuals hear a snapping or cracking sound when a bone fracture occurs. Additional symptoms of a broken arm include:
- Severe pain that may worsen with movement
- Swelling or inflammation
- Inability to move your arm normally
- A bent arm, bent wrist, or another noticeable deformity
If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, seek the help of a medical professional immediately. Without prompt treatment, the arm may not heal correctly, leading to more complex issues.
There are several scenarios that can lead to a broken arm. Some of the most common causes include:
- Falls: The most common cause of a broken arm is falling onto an outstretched hand or elbow.
- Sports-related injuries: Traumatic injuries or direct blows on the court or field can result in a broken arm. Football, skateboarding, gymnastics, soccer, and skiing are among the most common sports associated with arm fractures.
- Traumatic accidents: Vehicular accidents or other similar events can cause arm fractures.
- Child abuse: Unfortunately, child abuse is a leading cause of broken arms among children.
The risk for arm fractures is increased in patients with certain medical conditions, including osteoporosis and bone tumors.
Treating a Broken Arm
If you have suffered a broken arm, the course of action recommended will depend on the severity of the fracture. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be recommended to help alleviate discomfort. For severe pain, your doctor may prescribe a narcotic for the first few days. Ask your doctor before taking NSAIDs – such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen – as these drugs could hinder healing if used over the long term. If the fracture broke through the skin, antibiotics will likely be provided to reduce the risk of infection.
In addition to managing pain and minimizing the risk of infection, treatment may include:
Setting the Bone
If the bones have shifted out of alignment, your surgeon may need to move the pieces back into the appropriate positions. This treatment, called a reduction, may require sedation depending on the amount of swelling and pain present.
In order for a broken bone to heal correctly, it must be immobilized. This is achieved through the use of a:
If a cast is required, you may be asked to wear a sling for the first few days until the initial swelling subsides. During the healing process, your doctor may take x-rays to ensure the bones have not shifted out of position.
Movement is essential to proper healing. That is why rehabilitation exercises are encouraged early on in the treatment process. While still in your sling or cast, your doctor may recommend certain exercises to reduce stiffness in the arm, shoulder, and hand. Once the sling or cast is removed, additional therapies may be recommended to improve flexibility, strength, and motion.
If a fracture cannot be repaired through conservative means, surgery may be necessary. Surgical devices, such as plates, wires, screws, or pins, may be used to stabilize the bones during the healing process.
During a consultation, your doctor can identify the severity of your condition and recommend appropriate treatment.
Contact Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin
If you or a family member has a broken arm, seek medical attention right away. To schedule a consultation at our practice, contact us online or give us a call at (512) 476-2830.