The prognosis for most arm fractures is very good if treated early. But complications may include:

  • Uneven growth. Because a child's arm bones are still growing, a fracture in a growth plate — the area where growth occurs near each end of a long bone — can interfere with that bone's normal growth.
  • Osteoarthritis. Fractures that extend into a joint can cause arthritis there years later.
  • Stiffness. The immobilization required to heal a fracture in the upper arm bone can sometimes result in painfully limited range of motion of the elbow or shoulder.
  • Bone infection. If any part of your broken bone protrudes through your skin, it may be exposed to germs that can cause infection. Prompt treatment of this type of fracture is critical.
  • Nerve or blood vessel injury. If the upper arm bone (humerus) fractures into two or more pieces, the jagged ends may injure nearby nerves and blood vessels. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any numbness or circulation problems.
  • Compartment syndrome. Excessive swelling of the injured arm can cut off the blood supply to part of the arm, causing pain and numbness. Typically occurring 24 to 48 hours after the injury, compartment syndrome is a medical emergency that requires surgery. It can also be caused by a too-tight cast.
Jul. 22, 2014

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