Ulnar Fractures and Motorcycle Accidents

Ulnar fractures frequently occur in motorcycle crashes.

The ulna is a thin bone located on the little finger side of the forearm. It acts as a bone that helps supination and pronation (twisting) of the forearm. Technically, a fracture can occur at any point along the bone but it is mostly fractured along with the radius after a fall on the outstretched hand. It can also be fractures along its length when it is struck by an object directly.

Themain symptoms of an ulnar fracture are pain, swelling, bruising and a deformity along the area of the fracture. In some cases, the fracture can be associated with a dislocation of the ulna from the elbow, which leads to pain and immobility of the elbow. This is called as a Monteggia Fracture.

Monteggia Fractures happen more often in children.


The above animation shows anatomically where and how monteggia fractures occur.

Most ulnar fractures can be taken care of with closed reduction and casting of the wrist or forearm. If the ulnar fracture is markedly out of place, the fracture becomes unstable and needs to be treated with surgery. At the time of surgery, plates and screws are used to hold the fragments of the bone together.

Common complications of a surgical management of an ulnar fracture include:

• An intolerance to the metal plate and screws so that it must be removed.

• Infection in the bone or soft tissue after surgery.

• A nonunion of the fracture, which occurs about five percent of the time in this bone. Bone grafting may need to be done to connect the disconnected fracture segments.

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