Ulna fracture

What is an ulna fracture?

An ulna fracture affects one of the bones of the forearm; in many cases both the ulna and radius are broken.

Causes

This type of fracture is usually the result of a direct blow to the outside of the arm, for example when it is raised in self-defence, or as a result of falling on the arm when it is outstretched.

Symptoms

Pain, deformity, swelling, bruising, restricted movement and numbness or weakness in the fingers or wrist (although this is unusual).

Diagnosis

Following a medical examination, your diagnosis may be backed up by an X-ray which can show the extent of the damage.

Treatment

Where both forearm bones are broken you will usually need to have fracture repair surgery

Non-displaced fracture: this means that there is a crack in the bone, which can be seen on an X-ray although the bones remain in their usual position. This type of fracture can be treated without surgery, usually by having your arm in a splint for a few days, followed by a functional brace

Unstable fracture: sometimes a non-displaced fracture may be at risk of becoming displaced after an injury. If bones become displaced, you may need to have surgery to make sure the bone heals in the correct alignment

Displaced or open fracture: where the bone fragments are out of place (displaced), or if the fracture has pierced the skin (open fracture), surgery may be needed to realign the bones so that the bone is stabilised. The type of surgery depends on the fracture; pins, plates and wires may be needed to hold the bone fragments in place

Arthroscopy allows surgeons to use a type of keyhole surgery to diagnose and treat joint problems.
This type of surgery is used to treat a tear or rupture such as a distal biceps tendon tear
Elbow fractures that are displaced, unstable or open require surgery to remove bone fragments and realign the bones using pins, screws or plates so that they can heal correctly.
As most ligament tears can’t be stitched together, ligament reconstruction surgery can be carried out to replace torn ligament
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