There are three bones in the arm – the humerus, the ulna, and the radius. Any one of these can fracture, leading to what is known as a ‘broken arm’. This is a very common injury here in the United States with approximately six million people breaking a bone every year. Almost all these breaks occur as a result of a fall onto an outstretched hand or as a direct trauma to the arm (such as a blow from an object or something like a car accident). After the fact then, how is a broken arm treated?
Treatment for a Broken Arm
The treatment for a broken arm will depend on how severe the break is. If one of the arm bones has a slight fracture, the patient may be advised to rest, apply ice, and use a sling to keep the arm in place. If the break is more severe, it may need to be realigned, which will involve surgery. In some instances, the surgeon will need to use screws, plates, nails, or wires to realign the bone and help keep it in place while it heals.
If you suspect you have a broken arm, it is important that you visit your local E.R. for treatment. Sometimes it is easy to see that a bone is broken as the arm will look deformed. It may be that you are suffering with swelling and severe pain coupled with bruising. You might notice that the pain gets worse when you move your arm.
In some instances, a broken arm may not cause severe symptoms and the pain may not seem too bad. However, it is still a good idea to get checked out if you have fallen on an outstretched hand or have suffered a direct trauma to your arm, particularly if your arm is swollen and bruised. If you have numbness or tingling in any part of your hand or arm, you should go to the E.R. immediately as this could indicate nerve damage.
What Happens at the E.R?
If a broken bone is suspected, it is likely that your arm will be placed in a sling to minimize damage while you are waiting for an x-ray. Once your x-ray has been carried out, it will be looked at by a doctor who will then assess the severity of the break. It may be necessary for an orthopedic doctor to realign the bone(s) before a cast is placed on the arm. If this is the case, you will be given pain medication beforehand.
If you have suffered a simple break, a plaster cast is typically enough to repair any damage. However, if the arm is very swollen, you will probably be sent home with a sling and asked to return for the fitting of the cast when the swelling has subsided, which will usually be in a couple of days or so.
If you have a complicated break, you may need to be scheduled in for surgery.
Paying for Treatment
Non-surgical treatment of a broken arm costs around $2,500 in the United States. This would typically include a visit to the E.R., an x-ray, and general treatment. If you were to require surgery, that cost could rise to approximately $16,000 or more.
The good news is that the treatment associated with a broken arm is covered by most medical insurance policies, meaning that you can get reimbursed for any costs. You will need the CPT codes associated with the medical treatments and procedures you have had, but these can be easily found on a website such as that at Find-A-Code.com.