Arm fractures are common injuries that can sideline a weightlifter for some time. There are several types of possible fractures that dictate your treatment and your recovery time line, but if treated and rehabilitated properly, you should be able to return to weightlifting after several months.
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Your arm consists of three bones. The upper arm bone is called the humerus, while your forearm consists of the ulna and radius. A broken arm occurs when one of these bones sustains blunt force trauma and the bone fractures. Common causes include falling onto an outstretched arm, direct blows from sports competitions, and other significant trauma, such as during a car accident. If you break your arm, you probably will hear a snap or cracking sound. Other symptoms can include severe pain, swelling, tenderness, stiffness and arm deformity.
Types of Breaks
There are several types of arm fractures. In an open fracture, the bone breaks and pierces through the skin. This type of break needs immediate and aggressive treatment. A closed fracture involves the skin remaining intact. A displaced fracture occurs when the bone fragments are not aligned. This might require surgery to realign the bones. During a comminuted fracture, the bone breaks into several pieces. A greenstick fracture occurs when the bone breaks but not all the way through, and is more common in children. The type of break dictates your treatment plan and how quickly you can return to physical activities.
Treatment depends on the severity and type of break. Closed breaks usually can be treated by having a doctor move the pieces of the bone into place and immobilizing your arm in a cast or split. More serious breaks usually require surgery, in which fixation devices such as wires, plates or screws are used to keep the bones in place and allow them to heal.
Depending on the location and severity of the break, physical therapy might be needed. This will begin right away and will focus on regaining strength and flexibility in your arm, but needs to be done gradually. In fact, patients are restricted from lifting objects for up to 12 weeks following surgery. You should not do any weightlifting or heavy lifting until your arm has completely healed and your doctor has given you permission. Full recovery usually takes about three to four months, although everybody heals at a different rate. Fortunately, prognosis is very good for an arm fracture. According to InteliHealth.com, more than 90 percent of patients recover successfully and regain all their strength. This means you should be able to return to weightlifting about three to four months after your injury.