Information about Forearm Surgery
The area on the arm between the wrist and the elbow is called the forearm. Surgery on this particular area of the body can have different effects on different people, depending on which bone is affected, but full recovery has a high success rate.
Radius and ulna
The structure of the arm is an intricate one, as the functions of the arm are so varied. Since different joints perform various tasks, each must be addressed with bone, muscle and tendons to provide the means of doing them. The forearm, for example, has only two bones; the radius, which is together with synergy, each has their specific role:
- Radius: Running down the thumb side of the forearm, the radius is considered as the forearm bone of the hand. Connected to the elbow via the radial head capitellum, it extends down toward the wrist where it meets the head of the ulna. As though on an axis, the radius has wide range of circular motion at the elbow, and supports the hand at the wrist. It allows two specific movements; supination, which allows the hand to be twisted from palm down facing to upward facing, and pronation, a movement allowing the hand to be twisted from palm upward facing to downward. When the movement is supination, the radius bone lay side by side; during pronation, the radius crosses over the ulna.
- Ulna: Running down the pinkie finger side of the forearm, the ulna is considered as the forearm bone of the elbow. Its main function is to support the elbow and parts beyond extending upwards. At the wrist, the ulna’s only role is to provide a pivot around which the radius rotates. The larger end of the ulna is at the elbow joint.
These two bones have great flexibility as they work in concordance with each other, crossing over the other in regular rhythm to accomplish their dedicated responsibilities. An injury to either of these bones directly affects the other, and can sometimes require surgery to attain full recovery.
Injury or trauma to the forearm occurs when an individual falls directly upon an outstretched arm, receiving a direct hit upon the forearm or the forearm is twisted beyond its normal range. When the injury is traumatic, the bones can fracture. Pain, swelling, bruising, limiting range of motion and a visible lump at the area are symptoms of a break of one of the forearm bones. When this occurs, the bones need to be put back together; a process that may require surgery depending upon the severity of the trauma.
In order to heal properly, the bone affected needs to grow back together. It may be necessary to hold it together using a metal plate held in with screws, or screws alone. General anesthesia and surgery are necessary for both of these treatments. These implants usually remain within the individual for life, but can be removed after a year if they prove to be uncomfortable. However, it is important to note, however, that the healed portion of the bone is more susceptible to re-fracture if the stabilizing implants are removed.
When nonunion of the bone occurs, further surgery will be required in which a bone graft is performed to increase the healing opportunity.
Individuals who have had forearm surgery can expect 6 to 8 weeks’ recovery time, followed by physical therapy. Rehabilitation of the injury is essential to regain muscle strength and must be strictly adhered to in order to gain full recovery of the forearm.
As with any injury, prevention is easier than recovery. Stretching muscles before activities, a diet rich in calcium for strong bones, performing weight bearing exercises and protecting the body with safety equipment when participating in sports activities all go a long way in avoiding injury. When it does occur, however, it is good to know that proper treatment and rehabilitation can return the forearm to its original condition.