Health A-Z

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Diagnosis

The doctor will review your symptoms. He or she will want to know:

  • How and when your injury happened

  • Your medical history, especially any history of previous injuries to your arm, including your shoulder, elbow and wrist

  • The approximate date of your last tetanus immunization, if your injury broke the skin

Your doctor will compare your injured arm with your uninjured one. He or she will check for:

  • Swelling

  • Deformity

  • Abrasions

  • Bruising

  • Limited motion

Your doctor will press gently and feel along the length of your arm to identify any areas of tenderness.

Your doctor will feel your pulse and check your sensation and ability to move your arm and hand. This will help determine whether a sharp edge of broken bone has damaged any of your arm's blood vessels or nerves,

The doctor will order X-rays of the injured bone. Sometimes additional X-rays of the joints directly above and below the fracture will be ordered as well. The X-rays will confirm the location and severity of your fracture.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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