How Do You Know if You Fractured Your Forearm?

Article featured on Raleigh Orthopaedic

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. A broken forearm can affect your ability to rotate your arm and even bend or straighten the wrist and elbow.

A bone may be completely fractured or partially fractured in any number of ways (crosswise, lengthwise, in multiple pieces). If the bone breaks in such a way that bone fragments stick out through the skin, or a wound penetrates down to the broken bone, the fracture is called an “open” fracture and requires immediate attention. Call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.

Cause of a fractured forearm

  • A direct blow to the forearm
  • Fall on an outstretched arm

What are the symptoms of a broken forearm?

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

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.

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 the severity of the break. 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.

The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon is an award-winning, board-certified orthopedic group located in downtown Portland Oregon. We utilize both surgical and nonsurgical means to treat musculoskeletal trauma, spine diseases, sports injuries, degenerative diseases, infections, tumors and congenital disorders.

Our mission is to return our patients back to pain-free mobility and full strength as quickly and painlessly as possible using both surgical and non-surgical orthopedic procedures.

Our expert physicians provide leading-edge, comprehensive care in the diagnosis and treatment of orthopedic conditions, including total joint replacement and sports medicine. We apply the latest state-of-the-art techniques in order to return our patients to their active lifestyle.

If you’re looking for compassionate, expert orthopedic surgeons in Portland Oregon, contact OSM today.


1515 NW 18th Ave, 3rd Floor
Portland, OR 97209

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