Ulna Fractures

An Ulna Fracture is a break in the Ulna bone, which is one of the two bones in the forearm. A fracture may occur from a sudden, direct trauma or impact, or a strong muscle contraction - known as an avulsion fracture.

Symptoms

Symptoms vary depending on the extent and location of the fracture. However, in most cases a broken ulna will cause:

  • Instant pain.
  • Tenderness over the area of the fracture.
  • Swelling.
  • If the fracture is close to the elbow - it may be difficult or painful to move the elbow.

When looking at the forearm and elbow, the Ulna is the bony protrusion which can be felt at the back of the elbow. It can be felt along the whole back of the forearm, right down to the little finger side of the wrist/hand.

Forearm fractures most frequently occur following a direct impact or fall. They can occur at any point on the bone from the elbow to the wrist, and may break the bone into two parts, or cause a fragment to be chipped off the bone.

Common forms of ulna fracture include:

Olecranon fractures and fractures of the coronoid process.

Treatment

An X-ray should firstly be performed to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity of the fracture, especially whether the bone is displaced.

Treatment of a straightforward Ulna fracture where the bones are not displaced will usually involve immobilisation of the arm with a cast or splint, for between 4 and 8 weeks to allow the bones to heal.

Where the bone has become misaligned or the fractured fragment has moved away from the rest of the bone, surgery may be required to realign and fix the bones back together. Again this is followed by a period of immobilisation.

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