Radius Fracture (Broken Forearm)

A broken forearm is usually a fracture to the radius bone, although maybe a fracture of the ulna, or even both. The radius is more frequently injured than the ulna because it is weight bearing. Immediate pain is the main symptom, with deformity sometimes being visible. Medical help is needed immediately if you have a suspected fracture.

Symptoms of a radius fracture

Sudden pain following a fall onto an outstretched hand or impact to the arm. Pain when trying to move the arm or wrist. Swelling usually appears and the arm may appear deformed if the bones are displaced. A compound fracture occurs when one end of the bone pierces the skin.

Treatment of a forearm fracture

If a fracture is suspected, seek medical attention immediately. Support the weight of the arm in a sling to try to keep it still. An X-ray will be used to confirm the fracture. If the bones are not displaced then a cast will be applied for 4-8 weeks to immobilize them whilst they heal.

If the bones are displaced they need to be brought back into position so they heal correctly. This can be achieved through manipulation or through surgery. If surgery is undertaken the bones will be pinned or plated together. The arm is then immobilized as above.