What are Forearm Fractures?

The forearm is made up of two bones, including the radius and the ulna. In most cases of forearm fractures, both of these bones are broken. Fractures of the forearm can occur near the wrist at the distal end of the bone, in the middle of the forearm, or near the elbow at the proximal end of the bone.

There are various ways that forearm bones can break which can range from cracking slightly to breaking into several pieces. In some situations, the bone will break in a way that causes bone fragments to stick through the skin (an open fracture) which requires immediate medical treatment.

The most common causes for forearm fractures include a direct blow to the forearm, a fall on an outstretched arm, or a motorcycle/automobile accident.

Common symptoms associated with forearm fractures include:

  • Swelling.
  • Bruising.
  • An inability to rotate the arm.
  • Numbness or weakness in the fingers or wrist.

Treatment Options

To first diagnose a forearm fracture, your doctor will physically examine your forearm, and may also have you undergo an X-ray. When treating broken bones, medical professionals know that the broken pieces must be put back into the proper position and prevented from moving until they are healed. Because the ulna and radius in the forearm rely on one another for support, it is vital that they are properly stabilized following injury.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

In cases where only one bone is broken and it is not out of place, a cast or brace may be enough for treatment. Your doctor will need to closely monitor the healing of your fracture and may have you receive X-rays frequently to ensure proper healing.

Surgical Treatment

In cases where both bones in the forearm are broken or if there is an open fracture, surgery is usually required. Because open fractures have an increased risk for infection, surgery is often scheduled urgently. If the skin around a fracture has not been broken, your doctor may recommend waiting until swelling has reduced before undergoing surgery.

The most common form of forearm fracture surgery is known as open reduction and internal fixation with plates and screws. During this procedure, the surgeon repositions the bone fragments into their proper alignment. The bones are held in place with special screws and plates attached to the surface of the bone.

I would recommend to anybody that needs hand therapy.


Schedule a Consultation

To learn more about non-operative and surgical treatment for a forearm fracture, please contact Dr. Neaman or Dr. Christiansen for your personal consultation. We welcome patients from the greater Portland, Salem, and Eugene, Oregon areas.

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