How to Tell if You Fractured Your Forearm

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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.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.