Broken Arm

1 What is Broken Arm?

Broken arm or fracture involve any of the parts of the hand like wrist, forearm, or elbow. It is usually caused by a fall which cause a break or crack in any of the bones.

A broken arm needs prompt treatment for faster healing. Treatment of fracture depends on the location of break and the severity of fracture.

Simple cracks are treated with ice, rest, and a sling. Some types of fracture may require realignment. Complicated fracture require surgery to realign, or to place wires or nails to maintain the normal position of the bones. Broken bones are diagnosed using X-ray images.

2 Symptoms

Pain that increases with movement of the affected region is one of the most common symptoms of broken arm. Other symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Deformity in the arm when compared to the other arm
  • Wound caused by puncturing of skin by bone
  • Wound caused by skin being cut during injury

Nerve damage in the affected arm may make it unable to move the arm. It may also lead to decreased sensation in the affected arm.

Significant pain in the arm that does not subside with pain medications and ice indicates broken arm. Mild deformity in one arm when compared to the other and swelling are indications of break in the arm.

3 Causes

Broken arm may be caused by:

  • Sports injuries – blows or injuries during contact sports or any other activities may result in simple or compound fractures.
  • Trauma – accidents, or other direct trauma may dislocate or break a bone in the arm.
  • Falls – falling from a height can lead to broken arm. Location of the fracture depends on the direction of fall and other factors that modifies the stress applied on the bones of arm.

4 Making A Diagnosis

A review of medical history, and signs and symptoms are the first steps in the diagnosis of broken arm. The type of trauma or injury helps in identifying the type of fracture.

Physical examination is done with specific focus on the affected area. It helps to identify signs of fracture and chances of damage to blood vessels.

Confirmatory diagnosis is done with the help of imaging techniques. X-rays are usually used to assess the break in the arm. For this two different images of the affected area is taken. Further evaluation is done with the help of MRI and CT scan.

5 Treatment

Treatment of broken arm depends on the type and location of fracture. Fractures are of different types:

  • Compound fracture – in this type of broken arm, the broken bone may pierce the skin. This is a serious condition and needs immediate medical attention to reduce the chances of infection.
  • Closed fracture – in this the broken bone does not pierce the skin. Skin remain intact over the broken bones
  • Displaced fracture – the two pieces of the broken bones are misaligned and needs to be aligned for healing
  • Comminuted fracture – In this type of fracture, the bone is broken into several pieces. It requires surgical methods to realign them for healing.
  • Greenstick fracture – in this type, the bone just cracks without completely breaking. It is most commonly seen among children as the bones are softer and more flexible at that age.
  • Buckle fracture – in this condition, one side of the bone is compressed. This causes the other side to bend or buckle. This fracture is also known as torus fracture, and is more common among children.

Displaced fracture needs realignment of the bones, a process known as reduction. Muscle relaxant and sedatives are usually recommended before the surgical procedure for reduction.

Immobilization restricts the movement of the affected bones and expedites healing. This is done with the help of splint, slings, braces, or cast. Immobilization is usually done after swelling reduces.

Swelling reduces within a week or so. Pain and inflammation reduce with over the counter pain medications. Prescription medication that contains narcotics may be recommended when pain is severe.

Surgery is suggested to stabilize some types of fracture. If the fracture is a closed one, surgery is done only after swelling is reduced. The broken bones are realigned and kept in place with the help of wires, plates, nails and screws.

After the initial treatment, rehabilitation therapy is suggested to reduce the stiffness of the arm. Wearing a sling or cast may cause some amount of stiffness in the arm, shoulders, or hands. Rehabilitation therapy includes therapy and exercises that help in restoring the strength of the muscles and to improve the movement of the affected arm.

6 Prevention

In most cases, injuries and trauma that cause broken arm happens all on a sudden and is difficult to prevent. But, some tips may help to reduce the chances of fracture. This includes:

  • Healthy diet rich in calcium, and vitamin D, two nutrients essential for bone strength
  • Exercises help to improve balance and posture
  • Avoid falls
  • Use appropriate, protective accessories for sports

7 Alternative and Homeopathic Remedies

Arnica, Bryonia, and eupatorium perfoliatum are the homeopathic remedies used for treating pain and inflammation of broken arm. Calcarea phosphorica, ruta graveolens, and symphytum helps in rejoining and healing of the bones.

Vitamin D supplements, spinach, and bromelain are the natural remedies that help in faster healing of the broken bones. Vibration therapy is suggested to accelerate the healing of bones. Applying essential oils over the fractured bones also is considered for faster healing.

8 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to prevent broken arm.

Having food rich in calcium, vitamin K, lean proteins, vitamin C, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids aid in improving bone strength. Prevent common injuries due to falls and accidents.

Remove the natural obstacles at home and get ample lighting. Having holding bars, especially in places like washrooms help to prevent sudden falls at home. Get protective gears for contact sports and other activities to avoid broken arm.

9 Risks and Complications

Stiffness, osteoarthritis, infection of the bone, nerve injury, blood vessel injury, and compartment syndrome are the complications associated with broken arm.