Pins and Needles in a Broken Arm

Dem Bones


Bad Breaks: The Forearm

The two bones of the forearm -- that portion of the arm from elbow to wrist -- are the radius and the ulna. The radius is the inner bone, in line with the thumb, and the ulna is the outer bone. Fractures to these bones most commonly occur through falling onto the hand and breaking these load-bearing bones or through being whacked with a baseball bat or other such blunt instrument. (Take me out AT the ball park?)

The way to mend an adult fracture that involves breakage and rotation of either or both the radius or ulna is for an orthopedic surgeon to make two long incisions over each bone and, after rotating the bones to their proper alignment, applying screws and plates to each. This easy process can be hampered if one or both of the adult bones is too thin for adult plates to be applied, usually for females injured. Children's-sized plates can be used, but it takes longer for the bones to fuse.

Performing this simple surgery can have other consequences. The muscles have to be moved out of the way, causing the nerves (there are three) to be stretched in the process. Healing may involve one of the nerves to trigger numbness, pain, and/or pins and needles in the arm or hand. The radial nerve affects the thumb and first two fingers, the ulnar nerve affects the little and ring finger, and the median can affect the whole lot.

How Many Bones Have You Broken?

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Yer hip bone's connected to yer neckbone (well -- not directly.)

I fell onto my right hand. The instinct to put our hands down to save ourselves is the wrong one for post-menopausal women over a certain weight (I'm not telling). Apparently, the correct way for us to fall over is to keep our arms out of the way and land on our backsides. I'll remember that the next time. I may even practice it in quiet moments, while waiting for my radius and ulna to heal. One of them was a multi-fragment break, and at least one of them rotated, but I can't remember which.

Part of my healing process involves a cycle of numbness, pins and needles, and pain in my thumb and first two fingers, implying that the radial nerve had to be man-handled a bit during surgery. This is fine by me (feeling=good; no feeling at all=bad). Except for one thing: it's driving me absolutely crazy.  I may go out and buy a baseball bat. . . .

Never broken a bone?

You have had no broken bones, ever? Not even one little one? (lucky swine!)

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Comments 33 comments

mayhmong profile image

mayhmong 7 years ago from North Carolina

The healing process sounds just as bad as breaking your forearm too?! I would rather have the bat than pins and needles!? My body has a strange allergic reaction to them things!

Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

I've never broken a bone, and neither has my husband... joints on the other hand, have not faired so well.

Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Teresa, I'm half in pain after reading this. Ouch.

Now, about falling on our backside, I betcha a hundred pushups that no matter how badly you broke your bones this time, you'll again protect yourself with your hands and arms in the event of a fall. Especially if you're falling down some stairs. I hope, for the sake of your bones :-) that I never have to collect on that bet :-) Oh, and if you win it, I'll forever bow to your powers of self-persuasion! Laugh!

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor Author

May, BadC, Christa, Elena: thanks for stopping by!

Elena -- so when you broke your knee was it because you fell down stairs? Ouch, ouch, and double-ouch! I know -- instinct will always triumph over logic. . . .

Elena. profile image

Elena. 7 years ago from Madrid

Nope, the knee was when I got run over by a car. While I was cycling madly in the middle of town. Ahem.

Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines


Your injury does sound troublesome and nasty. I've never broken a bone in my life and I wish God totally forgets about it. Besides, there are some things in life that could be "enjoyed" vicariously! :D

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor Author

oh Elena -- that's even worse! triple ouch and a hug!

Cris -- hope you have copious vicarious enjoyment of this one!

packerpack profile image

packerpack 7 years ago from India, Calcutta

Simple giude, good article. But in your poll above you have not given option "none", it is for those like me who has never broken a bone!

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor Author

oops -- you're right -- I slipped up, there; I can't edit it, either, as I'll lose the votes already cast. Am I Irish, or what?

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

You could add an additional poll capsule that says

[ ] I voted above

[ ] I didn't vote because I haven't broken any.

I broke my right thumb when I was five years old , and cracked my ankle when I was 18 (skiing). The ankle probably doesn't count since I thought it was just a sprain. It was discovered  years later when I sprained it again and the x-ray showed a healed break.

I probably also cracked my tailbone while sledding at midnight and bouncing off onto a rock. I have given up winter sports.



Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor Author

Thanks for the suggestion, Rochelle -- I added another poll. Sounds as if winter spirts are WAY too dangerous (for you, at least!)

Everyday Miracles profile image

Everyday Miracles 7 years ago from Indiana, USA

You describe what I experience with carpal tunnel syndrome, Teresa! Ugh! I really feel for you!

packerpack profile image

packerpack 7 years ago from India, Calcutta

I am the first to vote on your newly added capsule. No broken bone for me and it is not secrete!

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor Author

Yeah, Everyday, I was reading all about Carpal tunnel, and it sounds worse than I ever realized. Sorry to hear you are a sufferer!

packerpack: thanks for pointing out the omission. It's interesting to know the results.

Leta S 7 years ago

Um, Owwwwww? I broke a finger when I was 14. And that's it. I think stitches on my right knee is the worst I've been through. I was right--it was a really bad break, huh?

Tom Rubenoff profile image

Tom Rubenoff 7 years ago from United States

I am very fortunate that I have broken no bones given my experiences. I will relay them in a hub.

My son has had several broken bones - arm, wrist, knee, and ankle. If he is talking to me, perhaps I'll interview him.

I will be thinking of you as you mend and wishing you the best.

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor Author

hey Lita, hey Tom -- thank you both for stopping by. yeah Lita -- I never could do things by halves. Tom -- hope your son is speaking to you; bet you are a great father.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

I grew up falling of trees - and later off motorbikes :D  Much easier to cope with broken bones and torn ligaments when one is younger - would hate to go through it now - age, weight and *grin* I'm not telling, either! Those pins and needles - and the itching I still remember!

Falling on one's back now - what guarantee is there the bones won't break? Much better the hand or arm than the back I would think?

2patricias profile image

2patricias 7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Pat says - I've only broken one bone - the one above the elbow, whatever that one's called. I don't recommend it.

My son (age 28) broke his left arm as a toddler, climbing out of his crib. We removed the bars after that, on the basis that falling out of bed was probably less risky. Aged 10 he had a horrible fracture of the right arm - he'd been pretending a swing was a surf board. That required surgery and pins. Yuck. Aged 14 he broke his left wrist playing soccer. Aged 20 he broke some bones in his right hand playing American football.

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 7 years ago from South Africa

Lucky me I've never broken a bone! Although part of me says maybe its because I've never tried anything too radical? Anyway at my age I guess its not a good idea to start breaking bones.

Thanks for the interesting info and hope you are back to full use of that arm in no time!

Love and peace


Iphigenia 7 years ago

Hi - I broke my little finger at age 8 and my write at age 12 - at those ages the bones tend (on the whole) to bend and twist and not actually break apart - but tear with some connection left - I think that's called a greenstick fracture. Anyway, plaster casts both times.

Nowadays, my little finger is my weather centre - it is very sensitive to changes in atmospheric presure. I could make a fortune. My write clicks a bit but otherwise ne'er an ache or pain after that intial fall out of the tree in 1969.

Did you have an operation - and those pins inserted ....? ouch!

blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Yea I have broken an arm, it was not nice.I was in Grade3, I would have preferred to have done it now instead of them then someone could hand feed me.Have been so tired lately lol.

frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

I've broken several Teresa. None involving grace and all involving stupidity and or alcohol.

Interesting info :)

Melody Lagrimas profile image

Melody Lagrimas 7 years ago from Philippines

Have never broken a bone, but as a student nurse before, I had assisted a doctor mend a broken bone w few times.

LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Ouch, hope you are now well on the way to recovery.

I broke my wrist at school, but being 14 at the time, it healed up very quickly.

My great-aunt Clara broke her arm when she was 97, and was told she was too old for it to heal, and that was that. Her bones didn't take to the telling, and it mended completely, although it took about 6 months.

Suiiki profile image

Suiiki 7 years ago from City of the Newly Wed and Nearly Dead

How is the healing process going? I hope all is well.

I was three years old when I broke my right radius baking cookies. Yes you read that correctly. I was standing on a little kiddie stool, doing more watching Mum than baking. Mum turned and crossed the kitchen to get a baking sheet. I turned to jump off the stool and follow her. The stool flipped, my arm got tangled, and I cried. Mum woke up the baby so she could take me to hospital and have it examined. No one thought it was broken until the x-rays came back...but there it was, plain as day, broken in not one, but two places. Luckily I got away without requiring surgery to fix the bone, but it was a very long and painful recovery time for a 3-year-old with ADHD who wasn't allowed to get out of bed except to potty. The only good thing was that Mum and Dad pulled the hide-a-bed out and let me sleep in the living room, so I had television to watch and books to read and paper to colour on.

And far too many relatives who really meant well, even though I wanted them to go away, because Aunty Dee smelled funny and Uncle Bill had a dirty santa claus beard and hair that was too long...

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor Author

Ouch! That's a lot for a kid to go through. I'm doing great now -- still have pins and needles in my thumb, but hey, that's a lot better than NOT feeling anything!

Thanks for coming by. Smelly relatives are a pain, I agree.

Maddison81 profile image

Maddison81 6 years ago from California, USA

wow great info! I had bad pins and needles in my arm after my tonsillitus episode when the nurse damaged one of my nerves with the drip. Thank goodness its better now!

Georgina 6 years ago

heloo, i have recently just broke my arm i have broke the two bones, the radius i beleive its called and the ulna, i have been told by the doctors that i have done a complete open fracture, basicly snapped the bones in two and one of them was sticking out my arm at the bottom. ewww :/, + i dint even cryy :O. im in the recoving of it at the moment and i bet your wondering how i did this, well because im only 14 and a silly one at that, i sat on some handle bars on a bmx (bike) we was riding fast and i the bike hit a ditch and he shot off the seat backwards and the bike tipped with him so i shott in the air and fell to the ground and my body was tipping to the left so out of instinct i put my hands down to save me well of course my look my right hand never touched the floor so all my weight went on my left arm (bad idea right?) snaping two bones. On top of all of this i had to have surgery! they had to pin it + put a plate in it and now all my fingers are numb, and when i move them it feels like all my bones are moving in my arm. The arm doesn't half get itchy down my cast, i dont want to put anything down there though in case i catch any of my stiching. The rewards are great though my family bring lots of sweets and chocolates round for me, so that an upside to things. georgina xx

Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 6 years ago from The Other Bangor Author

Hey, Georgina darlin' --

OUCH! You really hurt yourself; and your description is so vivid, I could feel it all along with you.

I know what you mean about moving your fingers, and it feeling like the bones in your arm are moving: that's the tendons and muscles moving over the plates and pins, I think.

Well, good for you for looking on the bright side and enjoying all those sweets. Oh -- and don't do what I did, and stick a chopstick down your cast to have a good scratch -- I caught the stitches, and made the scar bigger.

Hope you are fully recovered soon -- but for dear's sake be careful on bikes!

Thank you for coming by and sharing your story,


dawnM profile image

dawnM 6 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

interesting topic, always though that you should put hands out to fall but it makes perfect sense if you have brittle bones.

Kevin 5 years ago

been quite awhile since last post but i just came across this and thought i would post :)... 2 and a half weeks ago i took my 5 yr old son down to the skate park, im 26 and have been skating and surfing for most of my life plus i own my own personal training business so its not like im unfit :), anyway freak accident i jumped on a mustve clipped a stone i came down on my arm and broke my radius and ulna in my forearm, bad break but didn't come through the skin, surgeons were surprised it didn't.

4 days later after i broke it and local docs put it back into place i was put under the knife and had 2 plates and 12 screws put in. i didn't get a cast they just gave me a splint that goes down 3/4 of the under side of my forearm, as the wanted me to start moving slightly straight away. i defiantly have the pins n needles, numbness, and aches in my hand, its driving me nuts, but every day i seem to get slightly more movement in my fingers and finger tips. also ive got alot of aching pain in my elbow which im told is tendinitis from supporting the extra weight plus surgery ect...

i also notice the movement in my forearm especially when trying to close my hand, which i dont get very far yet :)

in a few days time on the 4th of may i go back for a check up which i was told my splint and everything comes off, so at least ill have nothing on my arm, but of course i have to be very careful for 6-8weeks im guessing

now im a very active person, i love my training and surfing, and im freaking that i wont make a full and fast recovery. but im hoping for the best

still freaks me out knowing theres steel in my arm...

DePuy Pinnacle Lawsuit 5 years ago

Any broken bone can be intensely painful! I have had a DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement in the past and the pain post operatively was intolerable.

What's worse is that I once again feel moderate to severe pain on my hips. There have been reports that the Pinnacle hip implant has a high failure rate amongst patients who have had it. I hope mine hasn't loosened up!

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