A broken arm is a painful and unfortunate event in a patient’s life. But after that initial pain subsides, one can often be left wondering will I ever get back to normal? Will my movement be affected by the broken arm? Will I be able to work? Can I go back to playing sport? Of course, the answers to these questions is incredibly variable depending on what you have broken and how badly it has been broken.
What can you break in the arm?
A number of structures make up an “arm” and can this be broken. The arm is defined as everything between the wrist and the shoulder and includes a number of bony structures. These are:
- The humerus bone is attached into your shoulder socket and goes all the way down to your elbow.
- The forearm goes from the wrist to the elbow and has two bones, the radius, and the ulna. The radius is the bone you can feel on the side of your thumb, whilst the ulnar is underneath it and on the side of your little finger.
All of these structures can of course break, and break in different ways and at different points. Each individual fracture has its own specific management based on years of research.
How do you manage a broken arm?
Whilst all break will be dealt with differently, there are some general principles that get people back to normal after a broken arm. Firstly, the break needs to heal. If the two ends of the broken bone line up perfectly and look like they will heal well then usually a sling will suffice to take the weight off the patient’s arm and ensure they are pain-free. However, in some breaks, the two bones are not properly lined up and need to be “reduced”. This can be done by pulling the bones back into position (don’t worry – anesthetic is provided) and putting a cast or splint on them to keep them in position. In some cases, surgery may be needed to fix the fracture into position.
Once this initial management has been completed the patient usually has a period of immobility where they cannot move the affected arm before rehabilitation starts. The rehab process will be specific to the break but usually involves devices to support the arm and physiotherapy to rehabilitate movement of the joints around the break. The specific exercises practiced in the physiotherapy will be determined by where the bone is broken.
If you or somebody you know has been affected by a broken arm, they may need specialist help to adequately rehabilitate mobility in their broken arm. To get specialist advice and treatment for this get in contact with a clinic providing orthopedic and physiotherapy services in the United States. It seems trivial but ensuring proper rehabilitation is often the most important part of the management of a broken arm and when done properly can allow the individual to return to work sooner with less pain and more mobility.