A broken arm is usually caused by falling onto an outstretched hand and involves one or more of the three bones in your arm: the ulna, radius and humerus. It usually takes from 6-8 weeks to heal in adults and less in children. A simple break may be treated with a sling, icing and resting the arm; however, if the bone requires realignment, seeking help from a medical professional is advised.
The most common symptoms for a broken arm include:
- Cracking sound
- Intense pain, which may worsen with movement
- Swelling or tenderness around the area
- Deformity (crooked arm or wrist)
- Restricted movement of the arm
Possible causes for a broken arm may include:
- Sporting injuries
- Trauma injuries (car or bike accidents, others)
- Child abuse
There are a few factors that can increase the risk of a broken arm. These risk factors include:
- Playing football, soccer, or other sport activities that involve physical contact or increase of falling and sustaining an injury.
- Conditions that weaken the bones such as osteoporosis and bone tumors.
A more complicated break in the arm might require surgery to realign the broken bone and to implant wires, plates, nails or screws to sustain proper alignment during the healing process. Other complications may include:
- Abnormal bone growth
- Loss of range of motion
- Infection of bone
- Blood and nerve vessel injuries
- Compartment syndrome
A few recommendations for preventing an unexpected arm injury may include:
- Physical activity and exercising to stay active and reduce changes of a fracture.
- Wearing protective gear for high risk activities.
- Preventing falls by wearing comfortable shoes and removing home hazards (examples such as lighting up a room or installing handrails in the hallways and stairways).
- Eating calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and others.