The arm is a remarkable part of our anatomy. Its three key bones—the humerus, radius, and ulna—work together to allow a wide range of motion while still providing support and stability. Together, these bones allow us to raise our arms, lower them, rotate them, and bend them in nearly any direction. They are strong enough to support our weight while we are climbing or lifting, but they also allow us to perform delicate tasks such as writing or typing.
But what happens when we break one of these bones? In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of treatment for a broken bone in the arm, as well as what you can expect during the recovery process.
Common Causes of A Broken Arm
A broken arm occurs when there is a break in one or more of the bones in your arm. This can occur in the larger bone in the upper arm, called the humerus. However, you can also break your radius (the smaller bone on the thumb side of your forearm) or ulna (the smaller bone on the pinky side of your forearm). Here are the most common causes of fractures to the arm:
There are many ways to break an arm. The most common way is by falling and landing on your hands. When you trip, your arm often reflexively extends to try to break your fall. This can cause the bones in your arm to break, especially if you fall on an outstretched hand.
One of the most common causes of a broken arm is playing sports. Football, basketball, and hockey are all demanding sports that put stress on the bones and joints. As a result, it's not uncommon for athletes to suffer fractures during competition.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
One of the most common injuries from a car accident is a broken arm. When two vehicles collide, the impact can cause the passengers to be thrown around inside the vehicle. If they are not properly restrained, they can hit their arms against the door or dashboard, causing a break. In addition, if the airbags deploy, they can also cause fractures.
Sometimes a broken arm can occur without any trauma at all. This is most likely to happen in people who have osteoporosis, a condition that causes the bones to become weak and brittle.
How to Tell if You Have a Broken Arm
The most common symptom of a broken arm is severe pain at the site of the injury. You might also hear a popping or snapping sound when the bone breaks. Other symptoms may include:
- Deformity in the shape of your arm
- Inability to move your arm or grip anything
Learn More: What Is a Fracture, and How Do You Know You Have One?
Treatment for a Broken Arm
Many different types of fractures can occur in the arm, from simple breaks to more complex ones. The type of fracture will determine the best course of treatment. In most cases, however, the goal of treatment is to reduce pain, promote healing, and prevent further injury.
The first step in treating a broken bone is to take an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. If the break is a simple one, no further intervention may be necessary. However, if the break is more complex or if there is any displacement of the bones, then realignment (this is called reduction) may be necessary. This is typically done under sedation or anesthesia so that the patient does not feel any pain.
Once the bones have been properly aligned, they will need to be immobilized so that they can heal correctly. This is usually done with a plaster or fiberglass cast, a brace, or a splint. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to keep bones in place while they heal.
Broken Arm Healing Time
The healing process for a broken arm can vary depending on the type of break you have. A simple break, where the bone has not moved out of place, will typically heal within 4-8 weeks. A more complex break, where the bone has moved out of place, may take longer to heal and may require surgery to correct. In general, most people can expect to have their cast removed and full use of their arm back within 3-4 months.
How Long Do You Need to Wear a Cast for a Broken Arm?
If you have suffered a broken arm, you may be wondering how long you will need to wear a cast. The answer depends on several factors, including the type of fracture and the location of the break. For example, a simple break may only require 4-6 weeks in a cast, while a more complex break may require 8-12 weeks.
What To Expect During The Healing Process
During the first few days after your injury, you will likely experience pain and swelling around the break. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication to help you manage this discomfort. Once your bone has been set and placed in a cast, the pain and swelling should gradually subside. You may still have some discomfort as your bone heals, but this should be manageable with over-the-counter pain medication.
Learn More: What to Expect Immediately After Cast Removal
Helpful Tips to Speed Recovery
Although the body is well equipped to handle the healing process on its own, there are certain things that you can do to help or speed up fracture healing, reduce swelling, and restore range of motion.
Get Plenty of Rest
It is important to let your body rest so that it can heal properly. This means avoiding activities that put stress on the injured bone, such as running or jumping. It’s also important to avoid lifting heavy objects, as this can also put stress on the bone and delay healing.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is important for overall health, but it is especially important when healing from a fracture. A diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals will help to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection. Foods that are high in protein, such as lean meats, fish, and poultry, are especially important as they help to build and repair tissue.
Smoking can delay the healing process and increase the risk of complications following a fracture. This is because smoking decreases blood flow to the bones and inhibits the body's ability to repair itself.
If you are in pain, over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle, and do not take more medication than recommended.
Work With a Physical Therapist
Physical therapy can help to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tissues in the arm, which can ease pain, reduce swelling, and promote healing. Follow your doctor's instructions for physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises.
Avoid Activities That Stress the Arm
When healing from a broken arm, avoid activities that put stress on the arm, such as lifting heavy objects or participating in contact sports.
Visit Your Doctor for a Follow-up
Follow-up appointments with your doctor are important to ensure that your broken arm is healing properly. If you have any concerns during your recovery, be sure to bring them up at your next physical exam.
Learn More: 7 Reasons Your Broken Bone is NOT Healing
What Factors Influence Bone Healing?
Bone healing is a complex process that is influenced by a variety of factors. One of the most important factors is the quality of the bone. Healthy, well-nourished bones are more likely to heal successfully than those that are brittle or weakened by disease. Another important factor is the presence of inflammation. Inflammation helps to stimulate the production of new cells, which is essential for healing. However, too much inflammation can actually delay healing by interfering with the natural repair process. Finally, the age of the patient plays a role in bone healing. Younger patients typically heal more quickly than older patients, due to the greater production of new cells. All of these factors must be taken into account when treating a patient with a broken bone. With a better understanding of how these factors influence bone healing, doctors can provide more effective treatment and improve outcomes.
The Cast21 Orthopedic Cast Alternative for A Broken Arm
A broken arm is a common injury and one that typically requires the use of an orthopedic cast. However, traditional plaster or fiberglass casts can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, not to mention unattractive.
The Cast21 orthopedic cast alternative is a game-changer for those who have broken their arm. The lightweight, open lattice design allows your skin to breathe, and the waterproof material means you can go about your everyday activities without worry. Plus, the sleek design means you don't have to sacrifice style for function.
If you're looking for an orthopedic cast alternative that's more comfortable and convenient, contact the team at Cast21, and we can help you find a provider near you.
Learn More: Everything You Need to Know About the Cast21 Alternative