Ulna Radial Fracture

Forearm fractures occur mostly due to car accidents or slip and fall accidents. There are also some cases of blunt trauma breaks in workplace accidents. For adults, fractures in both the ulna and radius usually requires surgery to stabilize the arm; without surgery there is no way to ensure the bones are properly aligned. Additionally, the bones must be reached through separate incisions on either side of the arm.

Fractures are classified as open or closed fractures. If there is a puncture at the site of the break, it is an open fracture. They need to be treated immediately by an orthopedic specialist to reduce the possibility of infection. The specialist will perform a neurologic examination to assess sensory and motor functions. A vascular examination is necessary, too.

There are classifications of open fractures depending on:

  • the size of the puncture
  • the amount of contamination
  • the amount of soft tissue damage
  • whether there is adequate bone coverage
  • if there is arterial damage

Very often the extent of the damage is not known until surgery.

Types of Arm Fractures

  • Colles fracture describes a break across the ends of both the radius and ulna, which results in a backward and outward position of the hand in relation to the wrist. This is called a hyperextension injury. This is the most common wrist fracture.
  • Smith’s fracture is an injury where the end of the radius heads downward toward the palm. This is called a hyperflexion injury and is sometimes called a reverse Colles fracture.
  • Barton’s fracture involves the upper edge of the radius and the joint surface, and is usually accompanied by partial displacement, called subluxation, of the wrist with carpal bone displacement.
  • Hutchinson fracture refers to an isolated fracture of the radial bone, usually caused by direct trauma to the radial side of the wrist.

Ulnar Radial Fracture Rehabilitation

If you have sustained a fractured ulna or radius, rehabilitation will vary depending on the type of fracture and length of immobilization. Rehabilitation may include both physical therapy and occupational therapy.

The primary emphasis of physical therapy is to restore full range of motion and strength. Physical therapy is also helpful in reducing pain. The intensity of physical therapy is based upon stability of the fracture and wither it was an open or closed fracture. Special attention must be paid to regain the ability to have full palm-up position and full palm-down position. Occupational therapy may be necessary in dominant arm breaks. Hand dominance will influence the degree of disability during recovery.

The bones usually heal within 6 to 12 weeks. It takes longer for bone strength and load bearing capabilities to return. It can take up to several years. It is important to refrain from overloading the fracture site until the bone has regained its full strength.

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