Did you know that there are over 6 million fractures every year? A broken arm can happen to anyone, no matter how old or young you are. It can be painful and make it hard to do everyday things, like playing sports or writing with a pencil.
But don’t worry! With the right treatment, most broken arms can heal and get better in a few weeks. Keep reading for everything you need to know about your broken arm.
Common Causes of a Broken Arm
A broken arm can happen to anyone, but it’s more common in children and teens who are still growing. There are many things that can cause a broken arm, including:
Falls are one of the most common causes of a broken arm, especially among children and the elderly. Falling from a height or landing badly can cause the bones in the arm to fracture.
Children are particularly vulnerable to broken arms from falls, as they tend to be more active and less aware of their surroundings. Falling off a bike, playground equipment, or downstairs can all cause a broken arm.
There are over 3.5 million sports-related injuries that happen every year. And these numbers are for children or those under the age of 18.
Sports injuries are also a common cause of a broken arm, particularly in contact sports like football and basketball. A collision with another player or landing awkwardly can cause the bones to break. Gymnastics, skateboarding, and other high-impact sports can also put you at risk for a broken arm.
Car accidents can cause a broken arm, especially if the arm is thrust against a hard surface like the dashboard. The force of the impact can cause the bones to break, even if you’re wearing a seatbelt.
Physical violence, like being hit with a hard object or falling during a fight, can also cause a broken arm. Violence-related fractures may be more complex and require surgery to heal or they won’t get better.
Some medical conditions, like osteoporosis, can weaken bones and make them more susceptible to fractures. Overuse injuries, like stress fractures, can also cause a broken arm. Doing the same motion, like pitching a baseball or playing an instrument, can cause tiny cracks in the bones over time that can lead to a fracture.
Repetitive movements can cause stress fractures in the arm bones over time. Just like your favorite clothes or home items get worn out over time, so do your bones and muscles. Activities that do this can be things like pitching a baseball or playing an instrument.
Preventing a Broken Arm
Accidents happen and sometimes there is nothing that you can do when they pop up unexpectedly. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of a broken arm. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Wear Protective Gear
When participating in sports or other activities with a risk of falling or contact, wear appropriate protective gear. For example, helmets can prevent head injuries, while pads or braces can help protect your arms and elbows.
Make sure to take proper safety precautions. Always wear protective gear and receive proper training, before participating in high-risk activities.
Maintain Healthy Bones
Keep your bones strong and healthy by getting enough calcium and vitamin D. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods like cereal and orange juice.
You can also take calcium supplements, but talk to your doctor first. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish like salmon, egg yolks, and fortified foods. Regular exercise can also help keep your bones healthy and strong.
Be mindful of slippery or uneven surfaces, and wear appropriate shoes with good traction. During inclement weather, take extra caution when walking on ice or snow. Most accidents can happen in these conditions.
Avoid Risky Behaviors
Many broken arms are the result of accidents or risky behaviors. Extreme sports such as snowboarding, skateboarding, and rock climbing can all put you at risk of falling and breaking your arm. Other sports such as football, basketball, and hockey involve a lot of physical contact and can put you at risk of being hit or falling.
Make sure to follow the rules of the game to reduce your risk of injury. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can impair your judgment and reflexes, making you more likely to be involved in a car accident and sustain a broken arm or other injuries. Even texting or using your phone while driving can distract you from the road and increase your risk of a car accident.
Another risky thing to do is use equipment such as power tools or heavy machinery without proper training or safety precautions. This can put you at risk of a broken arm or other injuries. Make sure to read the instructions carefully and use equipment only the way it should be.
Seek Treatment for Medical Conditions
Certain medical conditions, such as osteoporosis or arthritis, can weaken your bones and increase your risk of fractures. If you have a medical condition that affects your bones, talk to your doctor about treatment options to help manage the condition and reduce your risk of fractures.
By taking these steps, you can help reduce your risk of a broken arm and other injuries. However, if you do experience a broken arm, seek medical attention promptly and follow your doctor’s instructions to ensure proper healing.
Symptoms of a Broken Arm
If you have a broken arm, you might feel a lot of pain in your arm. It might also be hard to move or use your arm or use it to do things.
You might notice that your arm looks different than usual, or that it’s swelling or bruising. If you think you might have a broken arm, it’s important to see a doctor right away.
Diagnosing a Broken Arm
If you think you may have a broken arm, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible to find out. They will perform a physical exam and may also order an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis. During the physical exam, the doctor will check for signs of a broken bone, such as swelling, bruising, deformity, and tenderness.
They will also ask you to move your arm and hand to see if there is any limitation of motion or pain. An X-ray is a common tool used to diagnose a broken arm. It allows the doctor to see the bones in your arm and determine if they are broken, and if so, how severe the break is.
Depending on the location and severity of the break, the doctor may order additional imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI. In some cases, the doctor may also perform a bone density test to check for osteoporosis or other bone-related conditions that may increase the risk of fractures. It’s important to be honest with your doctor about how the injury occurred, as this can help them determine the best course of treatment.
Healing a Broken Arm
When you have a broken arm, your body has to work hard to heal the broken bones. It’s important to give your arm the time and care it needs to heal properly. To heal, your body needs to create new bone tissue.
This takes time, and it can’t be rushed. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for your broken arm, such as wearing a cast or sling and avoiding certain activities. It’s important to follow these instructions closely, as doing too much too soon can slow down the healing process or even make the injury worse.
Eating a healthy diet with plenty of calcium and vitamin D can also help your bones heal faster. As your arm starts to heal, you might notice some itching or discomfort under the cast or sling, if you get one. Remember not to scratch or poke at the affected area, because this can cause infection or take longer with the healing process.
Treatments for a Broken Arm
As we mentioned above, your doctor will probably put your arm in a cast or a sling if it’s broken. These are important to know about so you can help pick what’s best for you. Below, we will cover what these are, the differences between them, and the pros and cons of both options.
A cast is a hard, plaster, or fiberglass shell that encases the broken bone, holding it in place while it heals. These provide strong support for the bone and allow for very little movement, which can promote proper healing.
However, a cast can also be bulky, and uncomfortable, and can make it difficult to perform certain tasks. People struggle with things such as bathing or putting on clothes. Additionally, if the cast is not fitted properly, it can cause pressure sores or lead to other complications.
A sling is a fabric band that supports the arm and holds it in a comfortable position while it heals. Slings are typically used for less severe fractures or for injuries that require more mobility during the healing process. While a sling allows for more movement and flexibility, it also provides less support than a cast, which can slow down the healing process or cause the bone to heal incorrectly if not used properly.
In some cases, your doctor may recommend a combination of both a cast and a sling or may switch between the two as your arm heals. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions and attend follow-up appointments to ensure that your arm is healing properly. Ultimately, the decision to use a cast or sling depends on the individual case and should happen after you speak with a medical professional.
Hand Surgery for a Broken Arm
Sometimes, a broken arm is so severe that it requires surgery to heal. This is especially true if the broken bones are not lined up correctly, or if there is damage to the nerves or blood vessels in the arm. In these cases, a doctor may recommend hand surgery.
During hand surgery, a doctor will make a small incision in the arm and use special tools to carefully realign the broken bones. They may also use plates, screws, or other devices to hold the bones in place while they heal. After the surgery, your arm will be put in a cast or sling to help it heal.
Hand surgery can be scary, but it’s an important treatment option for some people with a broken arm. If your doctor recommends hand surgery, they will explain the procedure and answer any questions you might have. With proper care and time, your broken arm in a cast or after hand surgery can heal and get better.
Heal Your Arm
Having a broken arm can be scary and painful, but there are many treatments available to help you feel better. If you think you might have a broken arm, be sure to see a doctor right away. They can help you get the treatment you need to heal your broken arm. Remember, a broken arm in a cast or sling can heal with time and care.
If you are looking for a hand specialist or surgeon near Huston Texas, Reach out to Hand Surgery Specialists of Texas today. We specialize in hand surgery and problems of the upper extremities with minimally invasive procedures. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.