Ulnar Fracture

What is an Ulnar Fracture?
The ulna is the smaller of the two bones in the lower arm that span from the elbow to the wrist.  An Ulnar fracture is not nearly as common as a radius fracture, but it does occur in some instances.  The most common reason for a fracture or break to the ulna is if the forearm is struck directly by an object, or if the forearm strikes an object.  In most cases this injury can be treated with some sort of cast or brace, but it is important to seek medical attention to have the proper testing and diagnosis completed if you suspect an ulnar fracture.

Medical Definition of an Ulnar Fracture
There are two mechanisms that frequently result in fractures of the ulna; a direct blow to the arm and excessive pronation or supination of the arm.  A direct blow to the arm is the most common mechanism, and the resulting fracture is often referred to as a nightstick fracture, which is commonly seen in automobile accidents and fights.  Ulnar fractures can be classified into 3 group.  Type 1 fractures are non-displaced whereas type 2 fractures are displaced greater than 5mm.  A type 3 fracture is the most severe, and refers to displaced fractures of the proximal one-third.

Synonyms
- Fractured Ulna
- Nightstick Fracture

What are the symptoms of an Ulnar Fracture?
- Pain is the most common symptom
- Swelling of the lower arm at the site of the fracture and surrounding areas
- Site of fracture may be sensitive to touch
- Deformity of the arm in fractures with more severe displacement
- Movement of the ulna will elicit pain localized at the site of the fracture

Related Injuries
- Radius Fracture
-
Wrist Fracture

Treatment of an Ulnar Fracture
- If an ulnar fracture is suspected, seek medical attention to have x-ray done
- Isolated ulna fractures require a
brace or cast to stabilize the displaced bone
- For more severe displacements surgical intervention may be required
- Light
stretching and strengthening exercises once the cast or brace is removed
- Proper usage of
NSAIDS to help alleviate any pain.

Surgery
- Ulnar Fracture Repair

Related Anatomy
- Ulna
-
Radius
-
Elbow Joint

References
Robert Simon and Steven Koenigsknecht (4th ed). (2001). Emergency Orthopedics the Extremities: McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing Division (215-216)