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Surgery for a Broken Arm: What To Expect

For a broken bone to heal properly, the pieces need to be held in position long enough for new bone tissue to grow in between them. Without this, a break can heal out of alignment, leading to long-term issues like deformity, loss of function, and pain.

Some fractures can get straightened without surgery and held in place with casting or splinting alone, depending on the break. However, other breaks require surgery to realign the fractured bones and stabilize it with screws, pins, plates, or other devices to ensure it heals in the optimal position.

As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jared Tadje specializes in treating bone fractures. In fact, he keeps open space at Tadje Orthopaedics in Meridian, Idaho, to provide treatment for injuries requiring immediate attention.

If you need surgery for a broken arm, here’s what you can expect.

During your procedure

Your treatment depends on the type, location, and severity of your break. Before your surgery, Dr. Tadje uses imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs to determine exactly how and where your bone or bones have broken. Using this information, he creates a personalized approach for repairing your fracture.

In most cases, surgery to repair a broken arm can take several hours, and you receive general or local anesthesia beforehand. If you receive general anesthesia, you sleep through the procedure. Whereas local anesthesia only numbs your broken arm.

During your surgery, Dr. Tadje makes one or more incisions to access the break. Then, he realigns your bones and secures them in place with temporary or permanent devices, like rods, screws, or plates. Dr. Tadje also works to repair damage to blood vessels that occurred during your injury.

If you have severely damaged bone, like shattered fragments, your procedure could involve bone grafting. A bone graft either comes from a different part of your body or a donor and replaces lost tissue.

After setting your broken bone and repairing the damage, Dr. Tadje closes your incision with stitches or staples and wraps it in addressing. In most cases, you also need a cast applied to protect the area while you heal.

You may need to stay in the hospital for a night or two after your procedure, and it’s common to have pain and swelling.

After your surgery

Healing from a broken arm takes time. You should expect to have your arm immobilized in a splint, cast, brace, or sling for anywhere from two to six weeks or longer.

Once you go home, you have to follow Dr. Tadje’s post-operative instructions to ensure the best results. He personalizes these guidelines on a case-by-case basis, but they generally include:

It’s also crucial to follow your physical therapy program. These exercises often begin while your arm is still mobilized and focus on preventing stiffness and weakness. Once the immobilization period comes to an end, you start physical therapy exercises designed to restore strength and range of motion to your broken arm.

It takes approximately 12 weeks for a broken arm to heal. However, it can take up to two years to regain full use, strength, and motion in a fractured arm that requires surgery. To ensure the best outcomes, Dr. Tadje offers guidance on things you should avoid, like lifting, pulling, and pushing, and when you can safely resume activities like work, driving, and sports.

If you have a broken arm in the Boise area, get expert care to ensure optimal healing. Contact Tadje Orthopaedics in Meridian, Idaho, by calling 208-231-7851 or booking an appointment online today.

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