Adult Forearm Fractures: Cause & Treatments

Our forearm is connected by two bones, the radius and ulna. In an event of a forearm fracture, both of the bones are often broken. The location of the fracture can be in several areas. It can appear at the wrist area, middle of forearm or nearer to the elbow. The main function of the forearm is to facilitate rotation of the wrist. This rotation movement allows us to turn our palms upwards or downwards. A forearm fracture will severely limit the amount of work we can do.

Causes

Fractures are usually caused by a sudden stress acting on it that is beyond the usual limit. In the case of forearm fractures, there are 3 main situations that can cause such an injury – a sudden blow to the forearm, a sudden compression to the forearm or over rotation of the forearm. The ulna is the bone that is often broken by the above scenarios. Twisting fractures can also occur due to high impact sports or fall from heights landing on an outstretched arm. There will also be damages and injuries to the soft tissues such as the muscles and tendons.

Treatment

Non-surgical

The first step would be a first aid evaluation by a medical professional. The fractured arm will be immobilized using a splint or sling. An isolated fracture can be easily treated using this method and it will heal on its own. Realignment surgery is not necessary if there are no mis-aligned bones or protruding bones.

Surgical – Internal fixation

In serious cases, surgery will be required in order to promote healing and recovery. A fixation surgery will be carried out to realign and fix the fracture bones together. The bones will be connected using metal plates and screws and this will allow early recovery of movement, reducing the chances of bone resorption. A cast is required after surgery as well to add weight to the bone.

Surgical – External fixation

In cases where there is the presence of open wounds or damages to the skin, internal fixation is not recommended due to the chances of further injuries. Thus, external fixation is preferred. As the name suggests, external fixation involves fixing screws on the outside of the body. Screws will be attached around the fracture site using a metal bar. This metal bar acts as a stabilizing frame to hold the bone in proper position until it heals on its own.

All about Thumb Fractures

Our thumb only takes up roughly 15% of our hand. However, do not belittle it! The function of our thumb contributes to 50% of the entire function of the hand! As such, a fractured thumb is actually a pretty serious injury. Fractures in the thumb will result in the inability to grip an item properly and lead to problems in your daily lives. In this article, we will be talking about thumb fractures.

There are 2 bones in our thumb namely the distal phalange and the proximal phalange. The former is located from the tip of the thumb all the way back to the knuckle while the latter is from the knuckle to the base of the thumb. Fractures usually occur near the joints especially the wrist due to the tremendous amount of usage and stresses it faces day in day out. 2 of the most common fractures are the Bennett and Rolando fractures which involves the breaking of bones near the base of the thumb.

The Bennett fracture is a fracture of the thumb with subluxation. This is considered a serious injury and immediate medical attention needs to be sought. Failure to perform timely medical care may result in the disability of the thumb due to the pinching effect and opposition function of the thumb itself. The main cause of a Bennett’s fracture is due to a direct impact onto a semi-flexed first thumb such as during punching with a clenched fist. This action and position will cause the muscle tendon to pull the distal metacarpal fragment. Symptoms of this fracture includes acute and severe pain following by swelling with significant loss of movement.

The next fracture is the Rolando fracture. It is generally similar to the Bennett fracture but the nature is slightly more complex. It is also caused by a sudden impact force such as during the delivery of a punch. The injured thumb may be displaced out of shape due to the immense forces present and immediate swelling and bruising is visible. The main difference is that a Rolando fracture will result in the fragmentation of the base of the metatarsal into 2 to 3 separate segments looking like a T or Y shape.

Minor thumb fractures can be treated with an immobilisation of the finger for a period of 4 to 6 weeks and the fracture will heal on its own. A protective cast will need to be worn throughout that period. For serious cases, surgery is required and the bone fragments will be fixed using either pins or screws.