Broken Arm

An arm fracture is a broken bone in your arm. An active lifestyle, including certain sports with a higher risk of falls, such as skiing or skateboarding, increases the risk of a broken arm. Some medical conditions, like osteoporosis, can make the bones weaker and also increase your arm fracture risk.

If you believe your arm is broken, you should seek medical care right away. You will need treatment as soon as possible for the arm to heal properly.

The most common causes of an arm fracture are:

  • Car accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Stopping a fall with your hand

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

The symptoms of an arm fracture include:

  • Bones sticking out or looking out of place, called a compound or open fracture
  • Bruising
  • Pain
  • Problems moving or turning the arm
  • Snapping or cracking sound when the bone breaks
  • Swelling

To diagnose an arm fracture, a doctor will examine your arm and ask about your medical history. Your doctor may also order X-rays and other imaging studies if necessary

Treatment may include:

  • Realigning the bone (if necessary)
  • Wearing a splint or cast
  • Possible surgery
  • Physical or occupational therapy

Treatment depends on how severely the bone is broken. For a simple break, you may need to wear a sling or a cast. More complex breaks may require surgery to repair the break and keep the bone in place while healing.

Your recovery will also vary based on the severity of the break. After you heal and have physical therapy, if needed, you should regain full strength and mobility in your arm.

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Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

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Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).

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Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.

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We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.

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The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

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