Orthopedic Surgery Might Be Necessary When You Have A Broken Arm

Posted on: 19 February 2020

If you've recently broken your arm due to an accident or injury, you may be nervous about what your treatment and healing will entail. When the bone in your arm is broken bad enough, or if the skin is cut open by the bone, the orthopedic surgeon will probably do surgery right away. If the skin is still intact and the nature of your injury is agreeable, your doctor might recommend waiting to do the surgery. Here's what to expect with surgery to repair a broken arm.

The Wait Allows Swelling To Subside

Your broken bone has to be in alignment so it can knit itself back together. That's one reason surgery could be necessary, so the bone can be fixed in place so it can heal properly. However, it's also possible for a bone to heal by wearing a sling or cast. Your arm might be put in a sling initially if the injury isn't severe. Your orthopedic surgeon can then wait until the swelling goes down before doing surgery. Sometimes, it's obvious based on x-rays that you're going to need surgery. Other times, your doctor might try a cast to see if it will work, and if it doesn't, surgery may be needed later.

The Surgery Involves Pinning Your Bone In Place

Surgery to repair your broken bone might be done as an outpatient, or you might need to stay a day or two in the hospital depending on the type of surgery you have and the severity of the injury. You might need general anesthesia or your surgeon may use local anesthesia and sedation. The common type of surgery is the open reduction with internal fixation. During this procedure, your surgeon opens your arm so the bones can be aligned. Then plates or screws are added to hold the bone in place.

The other surgery is an external fixation. This is done when breaks are more serious and this procedure involves placing plates on the outside of your skin and pinning them through the skin to your bone.

The Recovery May Involve Physical Therapy

You'll probably wear a sling or brace after your surgery so your arm is stabilized. Your surgeon will give you instructions on how to care for your surgical site and the movements you should do to keep your arm from getting stiff. You might also need physical therapy to regain strength in your arm. Since breaks to the bone can happen in many different ways, your case is unique when it comes to what to expect in recovery. However, it could take several weeks until you're ready to resume full activities.

For more information, contact an orthopedic surgeon.