Medical - Forearm Fractures


Forearm Fractures

By Richard R. Maguire, MD, OrthoAtlanta

Spring brings out the bicycles, active outdoor play, team sports, and even spring cleaning. If one too many quick moves results in a fall, forearm fractures are one of the most common limb fractures. There are different types of forearm fractures, all of which occur as a result of trauma to the forearm. Understanding the causes and symptoms of forearm fracture will give you a better idea of what to expect should you sustain one.

A forearm fracture is the result of a severe trauma affecting one or both of the bones in the forearm, the radius and ulna. Some of the common causes include:

  • Breaking a fall with an outstretched arm
  • Direct trauma to the forearm
  • Twisting the arm beyond its range of motion

Sometimes, the symptoms of a broken forearm may be subtle. However, in most cases, a forearm fracture is excruciatingly painful. Consider these common symptoms:

  • Pain and swelling in the forearm
  • Difficulty moving or rotating the arm
  • Deformity near the wrist or elbow

The following are some of the most common forearm injuries:

Greenstick fracture: This is common in children, and occurs when either the radius or the ulna is completely fractured. Children’s bones heal quickly, so it is important to seek medical attention the moment your child fractures his or her forearm to ensure that the bone is set properly.

Nightstick fracture: In this type of injury, the ulna is fractured. It usually occurs as a result of a direct blow to the forearm.

Radial shaft injury: This is also known as a Gallaeazzi fracture. This type of fracture is an isolated one that happens to a third of the radius bone. It often occurs as a result of indirect trauma while the wrist is pronated.

Monteggia injury: This is an isolated fracture that occurs when a third of the ulna bone is broken and the radial head is dislocated. This type of injury is often caused by trauma to the arm while the elbow is pronated and extended.

Certain health conditions can predispose some individuals to forearm fractures. Age, poor nutrition, congenital bone conditions, and participation in contact sports are all factors that contribute to the likelihood of forearm fractures.

Depending on the severity of the fracture, treatment can involve anything from shifting the bone back in place to surgery. During the healing process, it is important to keep the arm immobilized so that the bone can heal properly. This is done with the help of a cast or splint. After the bones have healed and most of the pain is gone, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to assist you in regaining mobility in your injured arm.

OrthoAtlanta orthopedic surgeon, Richard Maguire, MD, is fellowship trained in sports medicine. His interests include knee, shoulder and elbow arthroscopy, minimally-invasive joint replacement surgery, fracture care and general orthopedics. Dr. Maguire serves as the team physician for East Paulding High School. 

OrthoAtlanta Paulding is located at 148 Bill Carruth Parkway, Suite 120 in the Paulding Outpatient South Pavilion. For more information regarding Dr. Maguire or to request an appointment, please call 770-445-5666 or visit