Treatments for Forearm Fractures

Dr. Gregg A. Vagner offers both non-surgical and surgical treatments for forearm fractures at his Austin, TX, practice. This type of fracture can affect one or both bones in the forearm: the radius and the ulna. In addition to the loss of function, extensive swelling can lead to more serious complications, such as loss of blood supply to the arm muscles. Fractures also commonly damage the surrounding blood vessels and nerves. When traumatic accidents occur, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Dr. Vagner specializes in treating conditions of the elbow, arm, wrist, and hand, and is committed to serving our community with skill and compassion.

Anatomy of the Forearm

The forearm is comprised of two bones: the radius and the ulna. The radius is larger at the wrist and smaller at the elbow. This bone is on the thumb side of your arm. The ulna, however, is the bone closest to your pinky finger and is larger at the elbow and smaller at the wrist. When one or both of the bones are bruised or broken, a forearm fracture is indicated. 

Symptoms of a Forearm Fracture

Forearm fractures result in pain, inflammation, and swelling. Typically, the forearm appears angulated or misshapen, and there is often a total lack of movement. Fragments of bone may noticeably shift when movement of the arm is attempted. Extreme swelling may be indicative of compartment syndrome, which is a serious condition in which the pressure from swelling interrupts or slows blood flow to the muscles. If left untreated, compartment syndrome can result in necrosis (death) of the tissues.

Dr. Vagner specializes in treating conditions of the elbow, arm, wrist, and hand, and is committed to serving our community with skill and compassion.

Evaluation of Forearm Fracture

In most cases, patients suffering a forearm fracture will go to the emergency room or an urgent care clinic for initial treatment. To determine the extent of the injury, X-rays will be taken of the arm, including the elbow and wrist, to confirm there are no further issues. A complete physical examination will be performed. The doctor will carefully check for blood vessel, nerve, or muscle damage, and will assess for any disruptions in the skin.

A doctor holds a patient's arm in a cast
If either of the two bones in the forearm are fractured, you could experience significant pain and swelling.

Treatment for Forearm Fracture

Immediate treatment for a forearm fracture requires stabilization. Dr. Vagner will carefully realign the bones to encourage proper healing. The majority of cases will require surgery to repair the fracture, although immediate surgical intervention is not necessary unless the skin is broken or compartment syndrome has occurred. Treatments for forearm fractures include:

  • Non-Surgical: Once the bones are realigned, a splint, cast, or brace will be used to keep the arm stable. In some mild cases, surgery will not be required.
  • Surgical: Immediate surgery will be required in the case of an open fracture, when the skin has been lacerated due to the break. Additionally, if compartment syndrome is suspected, immediate surgery will be performed. If there are no factors indicating urgent surgical treatment, then you may be placed in a splint, cast, or brace until your surgery is scheduled. The most common surgical treatment is Open Reduction and Internal Fixation (ORIF). In this process, a metal plate and screws are used to realign the bones in their proper position and hold them in place until the healing process is complete. In rare cases, an external fixator can be used. This device stabilizes the fracture by allowing the surgeon to place pins through the skin and into the bone. This is typically performed if there is a high risk of infection.

Schedule an Appointment with Us Today

To learn more about forearm fractures, or if you are experiencing hand, wrist, or arm pain of any kind, schedule a consultation with Dr. Vagner at one of our offices. Committed to quality conservative orthopedic care, our entire team is here to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have. You can call us at (512) 454-4561 or contact us online anytime.

Gregg A. Vagner, M.D.

Gregg A. Vagner, M.D.

Dr. Gregg A. Vagner is a double board-certified surgeon specializing in hand, wrist, and elbow injuries. With three locations in greater Austin, TX, Dr. Vagner provides conservative care for:

To request an appointment with Dr. Vagner, please contact us online or call (512) 454-4561.

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