Fractures of the Upper and Lower Extremities

There are countless ways that people can suffer broken bones (fractures) in their upper extremities (hand, wrist, forearm, elbow, upper arm, and shoulder) and lower extremities (hip, thigh, knee, lower leg, ankle, and foot).

Trauma and fractures can be caused by everything from auto accidents, falls, and sports mishaps to conditions that can weaken the bones, including osteoporosis, cancer, Paget’s disease, and malunions and nonunions (previous fractures that didn’t heal properly).

Fortunately, UT Southwestern’s experienced and highly specialized orthopaedic surgery team can help.


Signs and symptoms of a trauma or fracture in the upper or lower extremities can, but don’t always, include:

  • A clearly misshapen limb or joint, sometimes accompanied by broken skin or visible bone (“open” or “compound” fracture)
  • Pain, ranging from mild to severe
  • Swelling, bruising, tenderness, or numbness near the fracture
  • Restricted movement


Fractures are typically diagnosed using X-rays. Depending upon the severity and location of the break – as well as the extent of damage to surrounding tissue – other types of imaging also may be used to make a diagnosis. These include arthograms (X-rays of the joints), computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


In most cases, UT Southwestern’s orthopaedic medicine specialists can successfully treat fractures of upper and lower extremities without surgery.

Nonsurgical treatments include immobilizing devices such as casts, splints, braces, and traction, as well as physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Surgery is sometimes necessary to properly treat breaks that are complicated, severe, or resistant to healing. Surgical treatments include fixating (keeping together) the broken parts of the bone using metal pins, screws, or plates.

UT Southwestern orthopaedic medicine specialists work with patients to choose a personalized treatment likely to have the best long-term outcome.

Clinical Trials

Our orthopaedics team is involved in clinical trials that seek to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat fractures of the upper extremities and lower extremities.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a sports medicine specialist at UT Southwestern or to learn more about our services, please fill out the Appointment Request form or call 214-645-8300.

Doctors Specializing in Fractures of the Upper and Lower Extremities