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Broken Arm

Alternative names: Fractured Ulna, Fractured Radius, Fractured Humerus

What is a broken arm?

A broken arm is a common term for the fracture of one or more of the bones that make up the arm. An arm fracture – often caused by an accident or sports injury – occurs when more pressure is put on any bone than it can stand, and it splits, splinters, or breaks. The arm is made up of bones that can be broken in a variety of ways. The long bones below the elbow are known as the radius and ulna. Above the elbow is a single, long bone – the humerus. If you suspect someone has a broken arm, you should either contact the emergency services immediately by calling 911 or transport the patient to the nearest emergency room.

What are the signs of a broken arm?

  • Extreme, sudden pain in the arm
  • Sometimes bone sticking out of the surface of the skin

What causes a broken arm?

Common causes include:

  • A fall from a height
  • A motor vehicle accident
  • A direct blow

How does my doctor tell if I have a broken arm?

Your doctor will take some of the following steps to see if you have a broken arm:

  • Talk with the patient to find out if the pain occurred after a fall, a twist, or some other physical action. Find out if bones have been broken previously in the arm.
  • Perform a physical examination, by looking at the patient's arm
  • Order an X-ray

How is a broken arm treated?

A first-aid response is appropriate if you suspect a broken arm. It is important to get to the emergency room as quickly as possible.

After a patient is diagnosed with a broken arm, the doctor will have to determine the best treatment depending on the type of break.

Surgery is often considered to treat a fractured arm. The surgeon chooses the treatment method based on the severity of the fracture.

Recovery time from a broken arm varies enormously depending on such factors as the type of break, how many surgical procedures are required to repair the damage, and on how soon physical therapy (rehab) can begin.

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