Arm Injury Statistics

Broken arm Treatment

  • Requires immobilization, which means this arm cannot be used
  • Post cast therapy, which involves taking it easy on your arm after its out of a cast
  • 4 to 10 weeks depending on the break
  • Short arm casts and long arm casts

Broken bones per year

  • 6 million people in the United States break a bone each year
  • A broken or fractured arm means that one or more of the bones of the arm have been cracked. This is a common injury occurring in both children and adults. In adults, fractures of the arm account for nearly half of all broken bones. In children, fractures of the forearm are second only to broken collarbones.  Sources for this quote and the three bullets after the next one.
  • For a bone to heal properly
    • Good blood supply after the injury
    • Adequate stabilization
    • Sufficient new tissue formation
  • Almost all injuries to the arm that result in a broken bone are caused in 2 ways: falls and direct trauma.
  • The typical fall that produces a fracture occurs when you fall on your outstretched hand. The location of the fracture can be from the wrist up to the shoulder depending on the direction of the fall, the age of the person, and other factors that modify the stresses applied to the bone.
  • Direct trauma can be from a direct blow from an object such as a bat, the trauma during a car accident, or any accident that causes the direct application of force to a part of the arm.

Broken Arm Symptoms (sources)

Most broken arms have these symptoms:

  • A large amount of pain and increased pain when moving the arm
  • Swelling
  • Maybe an obvious deformity compared to the other arm
  • Possible open wound either from the bone puncturing theskin or from the skin being cut during the injury
  • Decreased sensation or inability to move the limb, which may indicatenerve damage

Next Step Follow Ups (Sources)

Additional follow-up instructions for fractures include the following:

  • Wear any support device (splint, sling, or brace, for example) until the doctor sees you for follow-up.
  • Keep your splint or cast clean and dry.
  • Apply ice to the injured area for 20-30 minutes 4-5 times a day.
  • Keep your arm elevated above the heart as much as possible to decrease swelling. Use pillows to prop your arm while in bed or sitting in a chair.
  • Take pain medicine as prescribed. Do not drink or drive if you are taking narcotic pain medication.
  • Call your doctor for increased pain, loss of sensation, or if your fingers or hand turn cold or blue.

Fractures/Broken Bones Data

Fractures, broken bones–you can call it what you wish, it means the same thing–are among the most common orthopedic problems, about 6.8 million come to medical attention each year in the United States. The average citizen in a developed country can expect to sustain two fractures over the course of their lifetime.

• The most common fracture prior to age 75 is a wrist fracture. In those over age 75, hip fractures become the most common broken bone.

• Fractures account for 16% of all musculoskeletal injuries in the U.S. annually. • More than 40% of fractures occur at home (22.5% inside and 19.1% outside).

• Approximately 6.3 million fractures occur each year in the U.S.

• Fractures occur at an annual rate of 2.4 per 100 population. Men are more likely to experience fractures (2.8 per 100 population) than women (2.0 per 100).

• After age 45, however, fracture rates become higher among women. Among persons 65 and over, fracture rates are three times higher among women than men. There are approximately 3.5 million visits made to emergency departments for fractures each year.

• Approximately 887,679 hospitalizations result each year from fractures.

• In 1998, fractures most frequently resulting in hospitalization were hip fractures (328,522), ankle fractures (101,944) and fractures of the tibia and fibula (67,600).

• Over half (57%) of fractures resulting in hospitalization occur in persons age 65 and over, including 90% of hip fractures, 65% of pelvic fractures, and 56% of vertebral fractures.

• In 1998, over 10.7 million fractures were seen by physicians in office-based practice (this included visits for follow-up care).

• Of these, approximately 8.6 million visits for fracture care (79.6%) were made to orthopaedic surgeons.

• When a fracture was referred to another physician, approximately 90.6% were referred to orthopaedic surgeons.

Data Source: National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey & American Academy of Orthopaedic


Shoulder Injuries:

  • In 2006, approximately 7.5 million people went to the doctor’s office for a shoulder problem, including shoulder and upper arm sprains and strains. More than 4.1 million of these visits were for rotator cuff problems.

Upper Extremities Injuries:

A total of 92,601 patients were diagnosed with an upper extremity injury between 01 January 2009 and 31 December 2009 in the NEISS database. According to the NEISS methodology, this represents an estimated total of 3,468,996 upper extremity injuries presenting to an emergency department in the USA during this time period. This would be an estimated incidence of 1,130 upper extremity injuries per 100,000 persons per year, meaning that a resident of the USA has a 1-in-88 chance of presenting to the emergency department with an upper extremity injury in a given year.

By anatomic site, the majority were finger injuries (38.4%), followed by shoulder (16.8%), lower arm (between the elbow and the wrist) (15.3%), wrist (15.2%), elbow (10.5%), and upper arm (between the shoulder and the elbow) injuries (3.7%)

The most common type of injury of the upper extremity that brings a patient to an emergency department in the USA is a fracture (29.2%). Other frequent diagnoses in the upper extremity are lacerations (23.3%), strains/sprains (16.2%), contusions/abrasions (14.0%), and dislocations (4.6%) (Table 2).

The majority of upper extremity injuries occur at home (45.4%), while 16.2% are sports-related. Other common sites are school (6.6%), other public property (4.1%), and street (2.5%). However, a substantial amount of locations were not recorded (25.1%) (Table 3). In the most common injury types, we found that most fractures occur at home (38.6%). Most lacerations also occur at home (67.1%), and most contusions and abrasions occur at home as well (44.5%).

According to incidence rates, the five most common specific injury (body part and type of injury combined) that brings a person to the emergency room is a laceration of the finger (221 per 100,000 persons per year; or 1 in 452 of us each year), wrist fractures (72 per 100,000 persons per year), finger fractures (68 per 100,000 persons per year), shoulder strains/sprains (68 per 100,000 persons per year), and lower arm fractures (64 per 100,000 persons per year)

Among the ten most common injuries (the five injuries described above plus: wrist strains, shoulder fractures, shoulder contusions, elbow contusions, and finger strains) found that the only significant correlation with age was found in finger fractures (Correlation Coefficient −0.614, p = 0.009).

    • Lots of good tables