What Exercises Can I Do to Rehab a Broken Arm?

A broken arm is a fairly common injury. In fact, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says that approximately 1 in 20 fractures involve the humerus – the bone in the upper arm. Lower arm breaks occur most often in children. Falls and accidents are common causes of broken arm bones. Rehabilitation for a broken arm involves range-of-motion, strength and flexibility exercises to regain full function.

Range-of-Motion Exercises

During the initial phase, when your arm is still immobilized, start gentle range-of-motion exercises with your hand, wrist and fingers. Clench and unclench your fingers regularly. With your doctor's approval, begin to flex your wrist and hand several times a day. Once your cast comes off, your physical therapist will develop a plan to maintain and improve range of motion in your wrist, elbow and shoulder. Exercises for the shoulder will include abduction and adduction, internal and external rotation, and flexion and extension moves. Do these moves several times each day.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching moves are essential to rehabbing a broken arm. Perform triceps stretch, biceps stretch, wrist flexor stretch, wrist extensor stretch, and pronation/suppination stretches for the wrist. These will improve the flexibility of the muscles in the forearm and upper arm. Do these stretches once or twice a day.

Strength Exercises

The next stage of physical therapy for a broken arm includes weight-bearing exercises to build strength. Biceps curls, lateral shoulder raises, and shoulder presses are effective to heal a broken arm. Start with light weights or lighter-colored resistance bands and do one to two sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of each exercise. More advanced exercises use your own body weight to provide resistance, such as pushups and triceps dips. All weight-bearing exercises should be done with at least 48 hours' rest in between to allow the muscles to rest and repair.

Caution

Never begin a rehabilitation or strengthening program without first speaking to your doctor. Too much exercise too soon can lead to re-injury. Do not rush your recovery. Follow your doctor's or physical therapist's recommendations for exercise.

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