It’s important not to eat or drink anything if you think you’ve broken your arm because you may need a general anaesthetic so that the bone can be realigned. Before reaching hospital, a sling may help stabilise the arm (this goes under the arm and around the neck). Avoid trying to straighten the arm.
Applying an ice pack, such as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel, to the injured area can help reduce pain and swelling.If your child has injured their arm or wrist, try to get someone else to drive so you can support and comfort them. A simple fracture, where the bone remains aligned, can be treated by applying a plaster cast. This holds the broken ends together so they can heal. You’ll be given painkillers to take home and be told how to look after your cast. An appointment will be made to attend a fracture clinic so specialist orthopaedic doctors can take over the care of your fracture.
With more severe arm or wrist fractures, the bones can become misaligned (displaced). If the bone isn’t realigned (reduced), the bones won’t heal well. Doctors use a technique called “closed reduction” to pull the bones back into position.
Certain fractures are best treated with surgery to realign and fix the broken bones. This includes displaced fractures, fractures involving a joint, and open fractures. Surgeons can fix bones with wires, plates, screws or rods. This is called open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF). Any metalwork isn’t usually removed unless it becomes a problem.In rare cases, an external frame, known as an external fixator, is used to hold the broken bones in place. After most types of surgery, a plaster cast is applied to protect the repair. A sling may also be provided for comfort. You’ll usually be able to go home within a day or two of having surgery.
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