Broken Arm: How to Treat and Eat for a Speedy Recovery?

by Johnny Jacks

A broken arm is a severe traumatic injury that significantly impacts the individual. Join us to learn about this condition, its treatments, and supplements to expedite recovery.

Most hand fractures are perilous injuries requiring immediate attention. In more complex trauma cases, surgery may be necessary to realign the fractured bone and insert wires, plates, nails, or screws for stability during the healing process. If left untreated, this condition can result in long-term complications.

What is a hand fracture?

A hand fracture can involve any of the three arm bones: the ulna, radius, or humerus. If you suspect a broken arm in yourself or your child, seek prompt medical care. Treating the fracture promptly is crucial for proper healing.

What is broken arm?

This is a significant injury necessitating immediate medical attention.

An arm fracture is the result of one or more broken bones in the arm, and it’s a common injury affecting both children and adults. Among adults, arm fractures make up nearly half of all fractures, while in children, forearm fractures are second only to clavicle fractures.

The treatment approach depends on the location and severity of the injury. Some fractures can be treated with a cast and rest, while others may require realignment through surgery.

Complex hand fractures may necessitate surgical intervention to reposition the fractured bone and the use of wires, plates, nails, or other devices to maintain bone alignment during the healing process.

Causes and Symptoms of a Broken Arm

Causes of a Broken Arm

The majority of arm injuries leading to fractures are the result of either falls or direct trauma. A typical fall that leads to a fracture occurs when a person lands on their arm with significant force. The location of the fracture can vary, spanning from the wrist up to the shoulder, depending on the direction of the fall, the individual’s age, and other factors affecting the force applied to the bone. Direct trauma can result from various sources, such as an object strike, car accidents, or any incident involving a force directly applied to a part of the arm.

Causes and symptoms of broken arm

The primary cause of a hand fracture is a substantial external force applied to the hand.

Symptoms of a Broken Arm

Most broken arms exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Severe pain that intensifies with arm movement
  • Swelling
  • Noticeable deformity in comparison to the uninjured arm
  • The presence of an open wound caused by the bone piercing the skin or due to skin laceration during the injury
  • Reduced sensation or an inability to move the limb, which may indicate nerve damage

You should not dismiss the following warning signs:

  • Intense pain that doesn’t subside with cold compresses or over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin)
  • Pronounced swelling or slight deformity of the arm when compared to the unaffected arm
  • Severe pain upon using or limited use of the injured arm
  • Pain localized to a specific part of the arm when pressure is applied.

Diagnosis and Treatment Methods for a Broken Arm

Diagnosis of Broken Arm

The initial evaluation by a doctor, either in their office or at the hospital, commences with a comprehensive medical history and physical examination. Gathering information about the accident helps the doctor assess the nature of the damage based on the injury’s mechanism.

Following a review of the medical history, a thorough physical examination is conducted, with a focus on areas of discomfort. The doctor is primarily looking for signs of a fracture, such as swelling or deformity, and assessing for potential nerve or blood vessel damage.

Diagnosis and treatment of broken arm

Typically, this trauma is diagnosed through imaging.

An X-ray is typically the primary diagnostic tool for assessing fractures. At least two different angles of the arm are captured for examination. Initially, most fractures exhibit clear signs of a fracture or other abnormalities on the X-ray. However, in certain instances, fractures may not be immediately visible on the initial X-ray. In such cases, a CT or MRI scan may be performed for a more in-depth assessment, or a follow-up X-ray may be scheduled for a later time

Treating a Broken Arm

The primary objective of initial aid is to immobilize the arm. Your physician accomplishes this by using a stabilizing device such as a sling. It’s placed under your arm, and the strap is looped around your neck. An alternative first aid method to immobilize the arm is to position a rigid object beneath the injured area.

Application of ice to the affected region can help alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Place ice in a bag and apply it to your arm for 20-30 minute intervals. Be sure to wrap a towel around the ice pack or insert it between the bag and your skin to prevent excessive cold exposure. Direct contact of ice with the skin should be avoided.

Medical Treatment

In terms of medical treatment, your physician will assess whether the fracture can be managed on an outpatient basis or necessitates hospitalization. In most cases, a broken arm requires hospital treatment.

A majority of fractures will require a splint or a partial cast to stabilize the fractured bone. Some fractures, particularly those involving the upper arm and shoulder, may be managed with a splint alone. Along with splinting, your doctor will prescribe pain medication and administer ice to mitigate swelling.

Injuries typically requiring hospitalization include:

  1. Bone protruding through the skin or a tear in the fractured area
  2. Fractures associated with nerve damage
  3. Fractures linked to blood vessel damage
  4. Complex fractures involving multiple breaks, joint involvement, or those that cannot be adequately stabilized in a clinic setting.

What is the typical healing time for a hand fracture?

How long does it take for a broken arm to heal?

The majority of arm fractures do not necessitate hospitalization as an inpatient.

The exact healing duration for a fracture is variable, contingent upon the location and severity. On average, it takes about 4-6 weeks for complete bone healing in a typical individual.

The majority of arm fractures can be managed without hospitalization. In cases of other fractures, your attending physician may recommend a follow-up consultation with an orthopedist (a specialist in bone care). The orthopedist will then assess the necessity for further treatment, which may include continued splinting, casting, or surgical intervention, based on the fracture’s status and recovery progress.

Additional post-fracture guidelines encompass:

  1. Maintain the use of any assistive devices (e.g., splints or braces) until your doctor advises otherwise.
  2. Ensure the splint or cast remains clean and dry.
  3. Apply ice to the injured area for 20-30 minutes, 4-5 times daily.
  4. Elevate your arm as much as possible to reduce swelling; use pillows for support while lying in bed or sitting.
  5. Adhere to prescribed pain relief medication; abstain from alcohol and driving when taking narcotic pain relievers.
  6. Contact your doctor if you experience increased pain, diminished sensation, or notice your fingers or hands becoming discolored or cold.

How to Avoid a Broken Arm

Preventive Measures:

  • Use suitable personal safety gear for added protection. Employing seat belts in cars, wearing wrist guards while skateboarding or participating in contact sports, and using appropriate pads can all help prevent bone fractures.
  • Focus on preventing and managing osteoporosis, a condition leading to bone loss, particularly prevalent among older women who are more susceptible to fractures as they age. In this demographic, the use of calcium supplements and estrogen replacement therapy has proven effective in reducing fractures resulting from weakened bones. The most effective approach for safeguarding bones is to prevent osteoporosis from an early age by promoting bone health through a balanced diet and regular exercise. Women of all age groups should consult with their healthcare providers to discuss ongoing osteoporosis prevention and treatment strategies.
To prevent bone fractures.

Supplementing calcium for the body.

What to Eat for a Broken Hand

Following a fracture, it’s essential to nourish and rejuvenate your bones. A well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients can expedite the healing process. Unless advised by your doctor, dietary supplements are generally not necessary and may not be as effective. It’s preferable to obtain the required nutrition from food rather than relying on medications.

Patients, especially children, require sufficient nutrient supplementation for a speedy recovery.

Patients, especially children, require sufficient nutrient supplementation for a speedy recovery.


Approximately half of your bone structure comprises protein. When a bone is broken, your body depends on protein to form new bone tissue for repair. Protein also facilitates the absorption and utilization of calcium, another crucial nutrient for bone health.

Good sources include meat, fish, dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), nuts, seeds, beans, soy products, and fortified cereals.

You may refer to the article ‘What are Protein-Rich Foods for Daily Meals?’ for more information.


This mineral is essential for building strong bones and can aid in the healing of fractures. Adults should aim for a daily calcium intake of 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams, although your doctor will determine if a calcium supplement is necessary and provide dosage recommendations.

Good sources of calcium encompass milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, leafy greens (such as broccoli, turnips, and collard greens), kale, soybeans, legumes, canned tuna or salmon with bones, almond milk, and fortified cereals or juices.

Vitamin D

Incorporate vitamin D into your diet to support the healing process of your fracture. It facilitates calcium absorption in your blood and aids in the mineralization of your bones. Exposure to sunlight allows your skin to synthesize vitamin D, so spending a short time outdoors each day, even just 15 minutes, may suffice for an individual.

Supplementing Vitamin D

Supplementing Vitamin D.

Vitamin D occurs naturally in only a few foods, including egg yolks and fatty fish. However, manufacturers fortify various other foods such as milk and orange juice with vitamin D. Adults should aim for a daily intake of at least 600 IU of vitamin D, while individuals over the age of 70 should target at least 800 IU.

Excellent sources of vitamin D include swordfish, salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, liver, fortified milk, yogurt, egg yolks, and fortified orange juice

Vitamin C

Collagen, a critical protein for bone structure, is essential for fracture healing. Vitamin C supports the body’s collagen production. To ensure adequate intake, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables as aging and cooking can diminish vitamin C levels.

Excellent sources include citrus fruits like oranges, kiwis, berries, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and leafy greens.


In cases of iron-deficiency anemia, where insufficient healthy red blood cells are present, the healing process after a fracture may be delayed. Iron aids in collagen production for bone regeneration and facilitates oxygen delivery to support healing.

Quality sources comprise red meat, dark poultry meat, oily fish, eggs, dried fruits, green leafy vegetables, whole grain bread, and fortified cereals.


A sufficient dietary intake of potassium can reduce calcium loss through urine. Various fresh fruits are rich in potassium.

Bananas are a nutritious fruit suitable for most people.

Bananas are a nutritious fruit suitable for most people.

Top sources include bananas, orange juice, potatoes, nuts, seeds, fish, meat, and dairy products.

Complications of a Broken Arm

  • Uneven Growth: In children, fractures near the ends of long bones (growth plates) can disrupt proper bone development as these areas are still growing.
  • Osteoarthritis: Fractures extending into the joint may lead to arthritis in the affected area years later.
  • Stiffness: Immobilization during the healing process for an upper arm fracture can result in limited elbow or shoulder mobility.
  • Bone Infection: If a fractured bone pierces the skin, it can be exposed to infection-causing germs, necessitating prompt treatment.
  • Nerve or Blood Vessel Damage: A broken upper arm bone with jagged ends can harm nearby nerves and blood vessels, requiring immediate medical attention if you experience numbness or circulatory issues.
  • Compartment Syndrome: Excessive swelling in the injured arm can cut off blood supply, leading to pain and numbness. This typically occurs 24 to 48 hours after the injury and may necessitate surgical intervention.

Preventing injuries involves learning the sport thoroughly before participation or seeking guidance from a coach to ensure proper form and technique.

Related Posts