Forearm Fracture

By | June 10, 2022

A forearm fracture is one of the most common fractures and accounts for about every fifth fracture treated in Germany. But due to its frequency, the treatment methods are now very mature and routine.

What is a forearm fracture?

A forearm fracture occurs when one of the two forearm bones, i.e. either the ulna (ulna) or the radius (radius), is severed by an external force. If necessary, both forearm bones can break at the same time. The ulna, which is located on the side of the little finger, breaks much more frequently because, in contrast to its counterpart on the thumb side, it is much more unstable. For histrionic personality disorder basics, please visit

Both the ulna and the radius are long bones. This means that they are traversed by a continuous medullary cavity, which is filled with bone marrow. In medicine, a forearm fracture is referred to as a distal radius or ulna fracture.


In most cases, the cause of a forearm fracture is a fall in which the affected person tries to cushion themselves on the outstretched hand and thus also on the forearm and in this way shifts a large part of their own body weight to the narrow forearm bones.

These can then no longer withstand the massive and sudden pressure and simply give way. A large number of interruptions occur during sporting activities in which falls are common, such as football or cycling.

In addition, people with serious bone diseases, such as bone loss (osteoporosis), are more likely to break bones and thus also to break their forearms.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A fracture of the forearm is associated with symptoms that are distinct and typical. A fracture is always associated with severe pain, which is not only felt directly at the fracture. In particularly severe cases, this severe pain can spread throughout the body. In many cases there is also severe swelling, which can be seen immediately on the fracture.

Of course, with an existing fracture, the entire movement sequence is significantly disrupted. Even small movements of the forearm cause severe pain. Even at rest, this pain persists. If there is an open fracture, the fracture can be seen with the naked eye.

There is often an audible crunching of the bones. Anyone who leaves such a fracture without any treatment from a doctor is taking a great risk. The fracture can sometimes grow together incorrectly, resulting in permanent damage. However, if you decide to seek medical treatment, the symptoms that appear will improve quickly and within a very short time.

A fracture of the forearm is usually always associated with clear symptoms that can often be diagnosed by the person concerned. A visit to the doctor is essential in order to achieve an improvement in symptoms.

Diagnosis & History

The diagnosis of a forearm fracture is usually made quickly and can sometimes even be made by the person concerned, since in most cases the broken bone is clearly visible in the form of a large, usually severely swollen bulge in the area of ​​the forearm.

In addition, there is a misalignment of the wrist, which is connected to the bones of the forearm via the bases of the carpal bones. Nevertheless, an X-ray of the affected forearm and wrist is essential, on the one hand for an accurate assessment of the severity and on the other hand for the exact localization of the fracture and for basic confirmation that one is present at all.

A forearm fracture usually causes severe pain and severely restricts the motor skills of the forearm and hand. For example, turning the forearm and bending and stretching the hand are no longer possible.


A fracture of the forearm is of course also associated with complications that can occur later in the healing process. In general, a fracture of the forearm should definitely be treated by a doctor. As a rule, a forearm fracture is treated surgically first. Even during such an operation, complications can arise when straightening the broken bone.

In certain cases, the fracture needs to be fixed with a metal plate or several screws to allow the fracture to heal slowly and firmly. Normally, a forearm fracture is reinforced with a plaster cast as the healing progresses. Such a cast is used for stabilization so that the broken bone is well protected from possible loads.

However, anyone who puts strain on the arm during the healing process must expect a delayed or longer healing period. Under certain circumstances, the bone that has just grown together can break again, so that the healing process starts all over again. Staying calm will help prevent any complications.

If inexplicable and long-lasting pain occurs, an appropriate doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. As a result, serious complications can be avoided or recognized and treated at an early stage.

When should you go to the doctor?

In the case of a forearm fracture, a doctor must be consulted as soon as possible. If severe pain, swelling and inability to move in the area of ​​the forearm occur after an accident or fall, a fracture may be the underlying cause. Immediately after the injury, the affected area should be cooled. An emergency doctor must be informed about the course of the accident so that appropriate treatment can be initiated immediately. If left untreated, the fracture can worsen and cause more symptoms. In general, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible after a fracture.

The doctor can clarify the fracture by examining it and, if necessary, consult a suitable specialist. If a forearm fracture that has already been treated continues to cause pain or other symptoms, the doctor must be informed. Medical advice is also required in the event of bleeding or swelling. A fractured forearm is treated in the hospital. The family doctor or an orthopaedist can make the initial diagnosis. People who repeatedly suffer forearm fractures should be examined in a specialist clinic. You may have osteoporosis or another bone disease that needs to be treated.

Treatment & Therapy

In the case of a forearm fracture, an operation is usually unavoidable. In addition, the location of the fracture determines both the form of treatment and the duration of regeneration. If there is a fracture near the shaft, i.e. at the transition from forearm to elbow and upper arm, the bone must first be straightened (reposed), ie brought back into its natural position.

The bone is then fixed with the help of screws and plates, which are mostly made of titanium or surgical steel. This form of treatment eliminates the need to wear a cast afterwards and only requires a protective splint. In the case of fractures near the wrist, on the other hand, the bone is often only straightened and then immobilized for a period of time with a plaster cast so that it can grow back together.

It is not uncommon for a forearm fracture to be accompanied by fractures of other parts of the arm, such as the joints and ligaments. These must then be supplied separately.

In order to counteract a forearm fracture, it is advisable to avoid sports that often involve falls. Unfortunately, unlike other bones, the ulna and radius cannot be protected from impacts and injuries with various protectors.


A forearm fracture happened quickly, but fortunately it heals quickly because the diagnosis can be made quickly and the treatment methods are very efficient. As a result, you can do sports again a short time after the accident – which usually happens during sports.


Follow-up treatment of a forearm fracture makes sense both after conservative and after surgical therapy. Because the resistant titanium screws can tear out of the bone, a cast is put on to immobilize the operated arm. The special dressing material hardens after just a few minutes and provides a solid framework around the bone so that it can heal undisturbed.

As a rule, it takes about six weeks for the osteosynthesis to be completed. In most cases, the fingers can be moved freely despite the plaster cast, which means that the restriction is less severe. Immediately after the operation, it is recommended to stay in the hospital for two more days because postoperative pain is possible.

After about ten to fourteen days, the doctor removes the sutures again. While the patient is still in the clinic, thrombosis prophylaxis is carried out. After discharge from the hospital, it is usually no longer necessary. To treat the pain, the person concerned receives pain-relieving and decongestant drugs.

In order to check the healing process of the affected forearm, a clinical examination is carried out and x-rays are taken. Physiotherapeutic or ergotherapeutic treatments are helpful to establish mobility in the forearm. This applies in particular after a long period of immobilization of the arm with the cast. Even with simple exercises, the muscles and joints can be carefully mobilized again.

You can do that yourself

A forearm fracture usually heals quickly if it is treated early and the patient follows the doctor’s instructions. Conservation and rest contribute to recovery.

After the fracture has healed, you can slowly start exercising again. Those affected can use physical therapy or other measures to speed up muscle healing. A fracture can also be treated with massage or with heat and cold therapy. Warm and cold compresses in particular are considered to be an effective remedy for broken bones. In consultation with the doctor, acupressure or acupuncture are also possible. A forearm fracture allows continued physical activity. However, the affected arm must not be exerted too much. An adapted diet provides the body with the necessary minerals and other substances that are essential for the rapid healing of a fracture.

If the forearm fracture continues to cause pain, the doctor must be informed. The nerves may have been damaged or the fracture may not have healed properly. In any case, medical advice is required. If additional symptoms occur, a visit to a specialist clinic may also be indicated.

Forearm Fracture