Arm fracture

Bones are considered as complex structures that provide structural support for the muscles and the soft tissues. An intricate network of bones located in your hands makes you perform complex movements such as writing, playing, etc. There are 27 bones present in each hand. The arm consists of three long bones: Upper arm consists of the humerus and lower arm consists of radius and ulna.

Arm fracture is a break or the crack anywhere in your arm. A fractured arm involves one or more among the three bones. In the arm, the fractures most often occur in the long shaft of any of the three bones. Arm fractures are the common injuries that occur in both children and adults.

Symptoms

You would know immediately if your arm broke because there may be a loud cracking sound. The other symptoms of arm fracture include:

  • Extreme pain at the affected site

  • Swelling and bruising

  • Deformity when compared to another arm

  • Inability to move the arm

  • Numbness in the affected area

Causes

The causes of arm fractures include the following:

  • Falls: A fall can cause a fracture when you fall onto an outstretched hand. The extent on the facture depends on the age and how much pressure you applied to the bone.

  • Direct trauma: Any of your arm bones can break if there is a direct blow from objects such as a bat, and during a car or bike accident.

  • Stress fracture: A stress fracture may occur when your arm muscles become tired and weak from overuse. These fractures are most common in athletes.

RTypes of arm fracture

There are three different types of arm fracture and include the following:

Nondisplaced:In the case of nondisplaced arm fracture, the bones break but remain in the same place.

Displaced:The displaced arm fracture may occur when the bone breaks and the pieces move from the original position.

Open fracture:The open fracture is a severe condition where the bone breaks through the skin exposing the fractured bone.

Risk factors

The factors that increase your risk of fractures include certain medical conditions and physical activities. The medical conditions such as weakened bones, osteoporosis, and bone cancers can lead to fractures, and these are considered as pathological fractures. The physical activities or certain sports in which there is an increased risk of falling such as playing football, skateboarding, or skiing.

Diagnosis

The initial evaluation begins with the thorough history and physical examination. Your doctor may suggest an X-ray to determine the type and extent of the fracture. Sometimes, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be recommended for more detailed images.

Most often, the fractures heal with appropriate treatment. However, certain complications may occur and include:

  • Nerve Injury: The nerve, which controls the movement of your hand, may be damaged causing numbness or weakness of your hand.

  • Bone infection: If the arm fracture involves bone protruding through the skin, it may cause infection.

  • Osteoarthritis: If the fractures involve joint, then you may have osteoarthritis in the future.

Brace, cast, or splint:A brace or splint restricts the movement of your arm and holds it in place.

Medications:You may be given pain medications to reduce the pain. Your doctor also prescribes certain antibiotics to prevent infection.

Physical therapy:Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist. Physical therapy involves performing minor exercises which help to improve your bone strength and reduce the risk of loss of function.

Surgery:If you have an open fracture, then you may require debridement of the injured tissue and fixing the pins or screws to hold the bones straight.

To promote healing, you must take adequate rest. Rest is often used to treat stress fractures. Elevating the arm above the level of your heart helps to decrease the pain and swelling. You can also use ice reduce pain and swelling.

A bone fracture can be prevented to certain extent by the following tips:

  • Increase the intake of vitamin D and calcium.

  • Perform weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your bones.

  • Prevent falls by wearing sensible shoes, removing home hazards, or by lighting up your living space.

  • Use a protective gear such as wrist guards while performing high-risk activities.