Forearm Fracture That Needs to Be Set

You have a break or fracture of both bones in the forearm. The bones are out of place and must be set to make them straight again. This fracture often takes 8 to 12 weeks to heal completely. Initial treatment is with a splint or cast. Severe injuries may need surgery to repair.

Home care

  • Keep your arm raised to reduce pain and swelling. When sitting or lying down, raise your arm above heart level. You can do this by placing your arm on a pillow that rests on your chest or on a pillow at your side. This is most important during the first 48 hours after injury.

  • Apply an ice pack over the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes every 3 to 6 hours. You should do this for the first 24 to 48 hours. To make a cold pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth. Never put ice or an ice pack directly on the skin. As the ice melts, be careful that the cast or splint doesn’t get wet. You can place the ice pack inside the sling and directly over the splint or cast. Keep using ice packs as needed to ease pain and swelling.

  • Keep the cast or splint completely dry at all times. Bathe with your cast or splint out of the water. Protect it with 2 large plastic bags, one outside of the other, each taped with duct tape at the top end or use rubber bands. If a fiberglass splint or cast gets wet, you can dry it with a hair dryer on a cool setting.

  • You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer, gastrointestinal bleeding, or take a blood thinner, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. If a splint was applied, it may be changed to a cast during your follow-up visit.

There is a chance that the fractures will move out of place again before the ends begin to seal together. This often happens during the first week. So it's important that you follow-up as directed for another X-ray. If X-rays were taken, you'll be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • The plaster cast or splint becomes wet or soft

  • The fiberglass cast or splint stays wet for more than 24 hours

  • More tightness, looseness, or pain occurs under the cast or splint

  • Fingers become swollen, cold, blue, numb, or tingly

  • The cast or splint develops a bad odor

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