Upper Extremity Fractures

Upper Extremity Fracture Surgery

An upper extremity fracture is simply a fractured bone located in the upper part of the body, including your arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand and/or fingers. There are four types of injuries we might see with an adult or pediatric upper extremity fracture.

Arm and Forearm Fractures
Elbow Fractures
Wrist Fractures

Common Types of UPPER EXTREMITY Fractures

Open Fracture

You’ll know an open fracture when you see it—the bone will actually pierce the skin and likely cause bleeding. This injury requires immediate surgery to lower the risk of infection.

Closed Fractures

A closed fracture does not pierce the skin, but can be displaced and require surgery to allow healing in proper alignment.

Displaced Fractures

With a displaced fracture, the bones on either side of the break are no longer aligned. Surgery will bring them back into place, often with pins or plates and screws.

Non-Displaced Fractures

With a non-displaced fracture, the bone cracks either part or all the way through but remains pretty much in place.

Signs of Fractures and Dislocations of the Upper Limb

Limb fractures in your upper extremities can cause pain, swelling and bruising. You might experience a loss of feeling or strength. It’s possible you might actually notice that your limb does not look straight.

Upper Limb Fracture Diagnosis

The upper extremity experts at Adelphi will put you through a thorough physical evaluation of the area, typically including an X-ray. After we’ve diagnosed a fracture, we may also have you undergo an MRI or CT scan to get a better view of the extent of the damage or injury. From there, we’ll recommend the best course of action to get you back on the move.

Treatment for Upper Extremity Fractures

There are three courses of treatment for upper extremity fractures: immobilization, reduction or surgery. Your orthopedic specialist will know which option is best for you once your injury is diagnosed.


With fractures that are properly aligned, conservative treatment with immobilization might be the best course of action. We’ll use a splint until the swelling goes down, then transition to a brace or cast to keep the bone in place while it heals.


Reduction involves straightening the bone to align it nonsurgically, without any incisions. This procedure can be performed in an ER, clinic or surgery center. Depending on your pain level, we may use an injection to numb the area or even use a general anesthetic.

Surgery for Upper Extremity Fractures

In the case of a severe break, surgery may be the best option. Depending on the type of fracture, we’ll look at using pins, rods, plates and screws to hold the bones in place until they heal. In most cases, we send you home the same day as your surgery.

Home Care and Recovery

Your home care routine will depend on the nature of your injury and the surgery and could include the use of an arm sling, ice applications, small movements, physical therapy or medication. Your surgeon will provide detailed instructions on the best way to recover at home.