The forearm is made up of 2 bones, the radius and the ulna bone, which move together in tandem to allow the range of motion at the wrist and elbow.
The forearm fracture is one of the commonest fractures to occur, and it accounts for 10 to 15% of all fractures regardless of age. Unlike osteoporotic fractures, it can happen to people of all ages. It usually happens after a fall on the arm and can be a high impact injury such as a fall from higher ground, or a sports-related injury.
The radius and ulna move in a coordinated manner for a wide range of activities of the forearm. Any disruption to the anatomy of either bone will result in a disruption of the balanced movement of one bone over another. This is why any fracture involving either the radius or both the radius and ulna will result in a severe disruption of the function of the elbow and wrist. Hence, most fractures of the forearm will require surgery for accurate reduction and stable fixation of the fractures.
Treatment by casting can be done for a small group of patients with a single non-displaced ulna fracture. The cast is applied from above the elbow to below wrist, and the fracture will need to be in a cast for a period of 6 weeks.
For most forearm fractures, the ideal treatment would be surgery for accurate anatomical reduction and stable fixation of the fracture. This is performed under general anaesthesia and takes about 2 hours. The patient will be started on mobilization and range of motion exercises of the elbow and wrist immediately after surgery. The fracture usually heals in 2 months and the patient can return to sports by about 3 months.