General Treatments

How Does a Fractured Arm Heal? – Arora Hand Surgery

Fractures are very common injuries, and the healing process is essentially the same for all fractures – it happens in stages, as new bone begins to form and fill in the area that was fractured. With severe fractures, healing may happen more slowly. A fractured arm heals in five stages:

  1. Inflammation

This is the stage where swelling occurs. It begins when you incur the fracture, and it is caused by bleeding from the bone and tissue. This stage typically lasts anywhere from 2-3 weeks.

  1. Soft Callus

Around the third or fourth week, the swelling will ease and the injury will become less painful. Stiffness will occur as the new bone begins to develop. This stage typically lasts between 4-8 weeks.

  1. Hard Callus

In 1-2 months, the fracture is bridged by the growth of new bone. Within 3 months, new bone should have filled in the fracture.

  1. Bone Remodeling

At the 3-4 month point, the site of the fracture begins to remodel itself. This is when deformities that may have occurred as a result of the injury begin to correct themselves. In adults, this will probably take the full 4 months. Children typically heal more quickly.


Most of the time, fractures will heal without complications. That said, though, most of the time fractures are also due to a severe injury, and sometimes that injury can result in swelling that is so bad that pressure is placed on the blood vessels, preventing blood from getting to the muscles surrounding the fracture. When this happens a condition known as “compartment syndrome” can result – the muscles begin to die, and long-term disability can result. In extreme cases, amputation of the affected limb may be necessary.

Other complications can include:

  • Infection – In cases of an open fracture, the bone ends are exposed to air and contaminants, and infection can result. In severe cases, infections due to arm fractures can lead to the need for intravenous antibiotics, and possibly several days in hospital.
  • Neurovascular Injury – This is a type of complication that can occur when the injury is so severe that the nerves and blood vessels around the injury are also harmed. Usually surgery is needed to repair the damage.
  • Growth Abnormality – This is a type of complication that occurs when a childs bone is fractured. One side of the arm bone, or even the entire bone, stops growing normally, and develops an abnormal angle. This can result in one arm ending up shorter than the other.
  • Post-Traumatic Arthritis – When a fracture extends into the joint, the bones can meet abnormally, and premature arthritis can result.

Most of the time, complications will not occur. Broken arms happen with great regularity, and generally speaking, they heal as they should. When the injury is severe, though, and complications result, medical professionals have a number of ways of dealing with them. Assuming that you follow your doctors directions, you can usually expect a full recovery, free of complications, from a broken arm.