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Fractured forearm


What is a fracture?

A fracture is a break in a bone. Fractures of the forearm can involve one or both bones in the forearm.

A child with a fractured forearm can experience:

  • pain and tenderness
  • swelling
  • deformity
  • abnormal movement at the fracture site.

An x-ray will be taken of your child’s arm to confirm a fracture. Depending on the type of break, your child may go to the operating theatre to have their arm put into a plaster cast. After going to the operating theatre, your child will usually stay four to six hours or overnight in hospital. One parent is welcome to stay the night to support and comfort your child.

Nurses will help to control any pain with medicine either through an IV drip or oral medications such as paracetamol.The fractured arm will be elevated in a special sling called a gallows sling. This will help to decrease swelling and pain.

At home


Keep the arm raised as much as you can for the first five days:

  • in a sling
  • or on several pillows while in bed.

This will help to decrease swelling and pain.

Pain and analgesia

Your child’s pain will be reduced after the fracture is aligned and the plaster is applied. Some pain can be expected for 48 to 72 hours after discharge from hospital. This can be controlled with oral pain relieving medicines (including paracetamol). You will be given advice on which pain relieving medication(s) can be given, at the time of discharge.

Exercises and mobility

  • Those parts free of plaster should be exercised frequently.
  • Keep the fingers moving constantly—e.g.five minutes out of every waking hour for first three days.
  • Move the elbow and shoulder if plaster allows.
  • Moving fingers and joints will help prevent stiffness and decrease swelling by encouraging circulation in the arm.


Do not wet the plaster. The plaster will become soft and weak if allowed to get wet. When showering or bathing, cover the cast with a plastic bag sealed with sticky tape to stop water getting into the plaster. Do not go swimming.

School and sports

Please ask the doctor when your child can return to school. All sports should be avoided until the plaster is removed.

Follow up appointment

A follow up appointment will be made for your child prior to discharge. This appointment is usually one week after the operation. An x-ray will be taken just before attending. This will check the alignment and healing of the fracture. A fibreglass layer will be applied to the plaster to strengthen the cast. This is not waterproof.


  • elevate the arm
  • keep the fingers moving constantly
  • do not push any objects under the cast (even for itchiness)
  • do not wet the plaster
  • do not cut the plaster
  • offer analgesia as required.

Contact your doctor immediately or go to the nearest hospital that treats children if:

  • fingers swell excessively
  • fingers go blue or white
  • fingers become very cold
  • your child feels pins and needles or numbness in their fingers
  • the arm becomes painful.

Emergency contact

To ensure your child receives the best possible care in an emergency, you should call 000 or go to your nearest Emergency Department.

If you have any concerns or questions please contact your doctor.

Mater Children’s Private Brisbane

Salmon Building,

Raymond Terrace,

South Brisbane QLD 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 8111


Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-470013
Last modified 28/4/2020.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 01/10/2019
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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