Skeletal Immaturity Does Not Affect Broken Bones' Healing

Most radius and ulna breaks heal thoroughly; subjective measures predictive of disability

THURSDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- People who break both the radius and ulna before reaching skeletal maturity heal just as well as those who are skeletally mature, and subjective measures of illness may be more predictive of degree of disability than objective measures of impairment, according to research published in the March 16 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Arjan G.J. Bot, of the Academic Medical Center Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and colleagues evaluated 71 patients who had diaphyseal fractures of the radius and ulna to examine how disability correlates with objective measurements of impairment and with depression and misinterpretation of pain, and to see how skeletal maturity at the time of injury affects impairment and disability. The patients were evaluated an average of 21 years after injury.

The researchers found that 97 percent of patients had satisfactory or excellent results, with 72 percent indicating no pain. Skeletal maturity at the time of injury did not affect disability, which was predicted mostly by pain, pain catastrophizing, and grip strength.

"An average of 21 years after sustaining diaphyseal fractures of both the radius and the ulna, patients who were skeletally immature or mature at the time of fracture have comparable disability. Disability correlates better with subjective and psychosocial aspects of illness, such as pain and pain catastrophizing, than with objective measurements of impairment," the authors write.

One or more authors or a member of his or her family received or may receive payments or other benefits from medical device companies.

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