Broken or Fractured Arm from an Accident: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
A fractured or broken arm means that one or more of the bones in the arm have been cracked. Broken arms account for over half of all broken/fractured bones in adults and may occur in both adults and children from a variety of situations.
Often times when a broken arm is caused by an accident there may be multiple fractures to the arm. The top two types of accidents that cause broken arms are fall accidents and car accident.
A fall accident usually causes a broken arm somewhere between the wrist and the shoulder due to outstretching the arm to break a fall. Depending on the direction of the fall, the age of the person falling, and other factors the modify the stress applied to the bone will determine where the fracture to the arm occurs at, the severity of the fracture, and how many fractures occur. A fall accident can occur from many different situations including situations involving negligence such as a broken or uneven sidewalk, an icy sidewalk, falling down broken stairs, or slipping on a wet or overly waxy floor because of no warning sign. Regardless of the cause of an arm injury from falling it is important to seek medical attention immediately so proper treatment can be administered.
Another way that a broken arm commonly occurs is in car accidents. A broken arm from a car accident is caused by direct trauma often either an airbag or from hitting it on the dashboard or door when impact occurs. A sudden impact to a car can also cause direct contact with the arm especially in situations where the accident is a t-bone accident or a side impact accident. If the arm is injured in this type of car accident it can often cause the arm to be crushed and cause multiple breaks in the arm.
If you suspect you fractured your arm in an accident it is important to get medical help immediately. The following are symptoms of a broken arm:
- A large amount of pain and increased pain when moving the arm;
- There may be an obvious deformity when compared with the other arm;
- There may be an open wound either from the bone puncturing the skin or as a direct result from the accident;
- Decreased sensation or an inability to move the area of the arm which was injured (this may indicate nerve damage in addition to the fracture).
The following steps should be taken if there are symptoms of a broken arm:
- Stabilize the arm - This can be done by making a towel or similar object into a sling by placing it under the arm and around the neck. This will prevent additional movements from worsening the injury and will help minimize the pain;
- Apply ice to the arm - Ice should be applied to the injured area of the arm to prevent swelling. Place an ice bag on it for 20-30 minutes at a time. Never apply ice directly to the skin;
- Have a splint or a partial cast put on - Depending on which part of the arm is broken the doctor will either give you a splint or a partial cast for the broken arm. This will assist in keeping the injured area stabilized in order to give the injured arm to heal. When the upper arm or shoulder is fractured only a sling may be given;
- Pain Medication - Generally a doctor will prescribe pain medication to help minimize the pain in the arm until it begins to heal;
- The bone has broken through the skin;
- There are severe lacerations near the broken area;
- Fractures that are associated with nerve damage to the arm;
- Fractures that are associated damage to the blood vessels in the arm;
- Complicated fracture to the arm involving multiple breaks, involve the joints or are unable to be stabilized in the emergency department or doctor's office.