Forearm Fracture

A forearm fracture is a break in one or both bones of the forearm. The forearm consists of two bones:

  • Causes

    A forearm fracture is caused by trauma to the bone. Trauma may include:

    • Fall on an outstretched arm
    • Fall directly on the forearm
    • Direct blow to the forearm
    • Twisting the arm beyond the elbow's normal range of motion

  • Definition

    A forearm fracture is a break in one or both bones of the forearm.

    The forearm consists of two bones:

    • Radius—the smaller of the two bones, runs along the thumb side of your arm
    • Ulna—the larger of the two bones, runs along the little finger side of your arm
    Forearm Fracture with Swelling
    Nucleus factsheet image
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask about your symptoms, your physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The doctor will examine the injured area.

    Imaging tests assess the bones, surrounding structures and soft tissues. This can be done with:

    • X-ray
    • CT scan
    • MRI scan

  • Prevention

    To help reduce your chance of a forearm fracture, take these steps:

    • Do not put yourself at risk for trauma to the bone.
    • Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a car.

    • Do
      weight-bearing
      and strengthening exercises
      regularly to build strong bones.
    • Wear proper padding and safety equipment when participating in sports or activities.

    To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:

    • Clean spills and slippery areas right away
    • Remove tripping hazards such as loose cords, rugs, and clutter
    • Use non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower
    • Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the shower or tub
    • Put in handrails on both sides of stairways
    • Walk only in well-lit rooms, stairs, and halls
    • Keep flashlights on hand in case of a power outage

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your risk of forearm fracture include:

    • Advanced age
    • Osteoporosis

    • Certain diseases or conditions that result in bone or mineral loss, such as abnormal or
      absent
      menstrual cycles, or post-
      menopause
    • Certain diseases and conditions that weaken bones, such as tumors or cysts
    • Poor nutrition
    • Certain congenital bone conditions
    • Decreased muscle mass
    • Participating in contact sports
    • Violence

  • Symptoms

    A forearm fracture may cause:

    • Pain, often severe
    • Tenderness, swelling, and bruising around the injury
    • Decreased range of motion
    • A lump or visible deformity over the fracture site

  • Treatment

    Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your forearm. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include: