How Long Does it take for a Broken Arm to Heal?

What to know: How long does it take for a broken arm to heal?

With more than 3.5 million hospital visits per year due to fractures, there are plenty of people right now wondering how long they are going to remain bedridden and in pain. And while broken arms are not the most common form of broken bone (wrists hold that honor), they are some of the most difficult to deal with for those who have a busy schedule to stay on top of. So, how long does it take for a broken arm to heal.

Operating a car or other machinery, writing, bathing, and using a computer can become difficult challenges, especially if you have been unlucky enough to damage your dominant arm.

Of course, the most pressing question for those suffering is: How long does it take for a broken arm to heal? The answer depends on a large number of factors, the most important being age and the type of break.

Take a look at all of the most important factors that can affect recovery time, as well as a few tips that can keep your arm bones and other bones strong for the long term. Let's understand how long does it take for a broken arm to heal.

Age of person with broken arm

Generally speaking, children heal much faster than adults and can expect to be relieved of their cast or sling in a matter of weeks, as opposed to months, in most cases. But even here, there is no hard and fast rule to determine exactly how much faster on individual will heal over another.

The average time span to heal a broken arm is between four and ten weeks. Older patients will tend toward the higher end of this spectrum, while younger ones will tend toward the lower end.

However, you can speed your recovery by eating foods high in calcium. Kale and other leafy greens, yogurt, milk, and sardines are all perfect and can shed days off of your recovery time.

Diagnosing the broken arm

Broken arms come in all shapes and sizes, and the severity of the break, as well as the healing time, depend entirely on which type of break you are facing. Your doctor will be able to let you know what kind of break you have, but here is a quick overview of the different varieties that are out there.

  • Transverse – A fracture that goes through the bone at a more or less perpendicular angle.
  • Oblique – A diagonal break across the bone.
  • Spiral – Occurs when one or both halves of your bone are twisted, creating a break that continues diagonally, in a spiral pattern.
  • Comminuated – A break that results in more than two pieces, and sometimes very many.
  • Avulsion – When two parts of the bone have been pulled apart.
  • Impacted – Occurs when two ends of the bone are pushed against one another, creating fractures.
  • Fissure – Small cracks that can happen along the length of the bone, sometimes due to repeated stress.

The most severe and long-healing types of breaks are those that split the bone completely, rather than just in smaller fractures. Bones that have broken completely and are disjointed from one another may require complex surgery and several months to heal completely.

The most common type of break in arms is oblique; however, most of the other cases do occur.

Keeping your bones healthy

As mentioned above, a diet high in calcium is an excellent way to stimulate bone recovery but it is also an effective means to keep bones safe from breaks in the first place. Make sure to get your daily servings of dairy as well as leafy greens to keep bones as strong as they can be.

Regular exercise is also a must for healthy bone development. Studies have shown that bones not used to regular exercise grow thinner and weaker than those get regular trips to the gym. However, making sure to choose an appropriate workout plan that does not place too much stress on the bone is important.

Finally, avoid smoking, as tobacco smoke slows your osteoblasts, which are the cells responsible for repairing bones.

After your break has been diagnosed, your doctor can prescribe a cast, sling, or metal plates in more severe cases. Make sure to follow their instructions carefully for a speedy and effective recovery.

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Last Reviewed:
July 03, 2017
Last Updated:
October 16, 2017
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