April 24, 2019

How do you know if you fractured your forearm?

Hand, Wrist and Elbow | Trauma


The forearm is made up of two bones in your lower arm, the radius and ulna. A fracture in the forearm can occur near the wrist, in the middle of the forearm or near the elbow.


The forearm motion allows us to rotate our palms up or down. The ulna stays still while the radius rotates around it. If you are twisting on a bottle cap, you are using the motion of your forearm. A broken forearm can affect your ability to rotate your arm and even bend or straighten the wrist and elbow.

Forearms can break just slightly or into many pieces. In some cases, the forearm fracture will result in bone fragments sticking out through the skin. This is called an open fracture and requires immediate attention. Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. OrthoIndy Trauma physicians treat patients at St.Vincent Indianapolis Level I Trauma Center.  In less severe forearm fractures, OrthoIndy also has urgent care clinics conveniently located throughout Indianapolis.

Cause of a fractured forearm

  • A direct blow to the forearm from a car accident or sports injury
  • Fall on an outstretched arm during a sporting event or from a height

What are the symptoms of a broken forearm?

  • Immediate pain in the lower arm
  • Obvious deformity
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Inability to rotate the arm

Physician examination

Most often, treatment for a forearm fracture will begin in an emergency room or urgent care. To determine whether you have broken forearm, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray can confirm the diagnosis.


How do you treat a fractured forearm?

In an emergency room or urgent care, forearm fracture treatment begins with stabilizing the bones and temporarily realigning them with a cast or splint.
Parent's guide to at-home treatment

Nonsurgical treatment for a broken forearm

If the broken bone is in a good position or can be put back into good alignment, a cast can be used to keep the forearm steady until it heals. An orthopedic physician will monitor the healing of the fracture with frequent clinic visits and X-rays.

Broken forearm surgery

If the broken bone is out of place and the alignment cannot be corrected, surgery may be required. Surgery is also necessary for open fractures where the bones have broken through the skin. This type of forearm surgery depends on where the break in the bones occurred and how severe the break is. Your surgeon will determine the best surgery for your injury.


Recovery for a broken forearm depends on the severity of the injury. Forearm bones typically take three to six months to fully heal. The more severe your injury, the longer the recovery may be.

Rehabilitation usually begins are a few weeks of healing. Sometimes you may still use a cast or brace during the beginning stages of physical therapy. Physical therapy will focus on strength and range of motion exercises.

Learn more about trauma care at OrthoIndy.

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000

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